Cape Town - Two people died over the weekend, in separate shack fires in Khayelitsha and Dunoon, while a fifth person died as a result of the fire on New Year’s Day bringing the death toll from shack fires to seven in the first week of 2013.
More than 100 people were left homeless in the latest blazes according to Wilfred Solomons-Johannes, spokesperson of Cape Town’s disaster risk management centre.
The latest victims, 35-year-old Lungelo Krexe of Thembeni informal settlement in Dunoon, Anele Mkele, 24, and 29-year-old Thobela Ndabambi, of Khayelitsha, all died on Saturday.
Krexe died in hospital where he was being treated for burns which covered 80 percent of his body, said Solomons-Johannes. He was admitted to hospital on New Year’s Day after a fire destroyed 15 formal houses and 220 shacks in BM Section, Khayelitsha.
Four men died the same night in separate fires in the Khayelitsha area. The two fires left 4 000 homeless in Khayelitsha and Dunoon.
Mkele was looking after his brother’s shack in Khayelitsha, according to his neighbour Boniswa Kili, 46.
Solomons-Johannes said Mkele was overcome by smoke and died as a result of severe burn wounds.
Kili said they had heard Mkele screaming that the evening. “When we (went) outside, Mkele’s shack was in flames, we couldn’t go near it. I caught a glimpse of him standing by the window with a burning mattress on his back. He was trying to get away but the flames were too much for him… he then collapsed,” she said.
She said they used water buckets in an attempt to extinguish the fire before the fire fighters arrived.
When the Cape Argus visited Mkele’s shack yesterday, the roof and walls had caved in. Among the burnt rubble a mattress and microwave, were the only identifiable things.
His neighbour, Wiseman Ntlondi, 44, was rebuilding his shack. He said the fire had come from Mkele’s shack. They both use pre-paid electricity for cooking and lights, he said. “I am stressed out, I lost everything in the fire,” he said. He said he saw Mkele now and again when he visited for a “chat or to watch TV,” he said.
On the other side of Khayelitsha, Ndabambi’s family were also rebuilding. His brother Thulani, 27, said he was “traumatised” by his brother’s “sudden” death. Ndabambi, who worked as a quantity surveyor, was the only breadwinner in the family, he said. He had five siblings. “I don’t know where we are going to go from here,” he said.
His aunt Nobathembu Mashundu, 48, said they suspect Ndabambi fell asleep in the early hours of Sunday while reheating food on the stove, and it exploded. The blaze destroyed 26 shacks and left 60 people homeless.
Meanwhile a large area of reeds caught fire in Milnerton at 7.30 pm on Saturday. Twenty people living among the reeds lost their belongings.
Solomons-Johannes said the city helped the fire victims by supplying food parcels, blankets, baby packs, clothing and building materials, among other things.