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Cape Town -
A mentally challenged man has died in a shack fire in Gugulethu and his brother is adamant the fire was started by a burning cigarette.
The body of Zanemzula Mkunqwana, 37, was found by firefighters after the blaze in the shack was doused by 4am in the Barcelona settlement.
Cape Town disaster risk management spokesman Wilfred Solomons-Johannes said the fire destroyed four adjacent shacks, leaving seven people homeless.
Mkunqwana’s brother, Nkululeko Apleni, 33, said they and their cousin, Anele Mkunqwana, 30, were asleep in the shack when the fire broke out just after 3am.
He believes the fire was started by a burning cigarette outside the shack.
“Youths smoke at night and early morning. They just drop their cigarettes on the ground and I firmly believe it started the fire,” Apleni said.
“We could not get (Zanemzula) out of the shack because it was too dangerous.”
Throwing his hands in the air, Apleni said: “I am saddened by the death of my only brother... he was a true friend.”
The city’s disaster response team have provided food parcels, blankets and building material.
Some of the victims of the fire in Khayelitsha’s BM Section informal settlement are still staying in the OR Tambo Hall. The New Year’s Day fire destroyed more than 821 shacks. More than 4 000 people were left homeless by the blaze and most were moved to the hall.
About 200 people are left at the hall. Most of them say they are fed up with the cold floor and lack of privacy.
Loyisa Thamo, 23, wants the government to start building houses to “put an end to unfairness”. She is staying in the hall with her six-year-old daughter, Liyema, and year-old son, Lwazi. “We don’t deserve this. We have been living here for a month and it is becoming unbearable.”
Land next to the hall has been earmarked for homes for the fire victims and construction has begun.