Three people were killed in a shack fire in Masiphumelele. Picture: Vincent Cruywagen/Cape Argus
Three people were killed in a shack fire in Masiphumelele. Picture: Vincent Cruywagen/Cape Argus

Man tells grisly tale of finding brother's charred body sitting on a couch

By Vincent Cruywagen Time of article published Dec 24, 2019

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Cape Town - A family member of one of the three people who died in a fire in the Masiphumelele informal settlements said after firefighters extinguished the blaze he saw the charred body of his brother sitting on a couch.

Sibusio Nondonga, 29, told of his ordeal at seeing the remains of his 30-year-old brother Nkosinathi, who died trying to escape his informal structure engulfed in flames.

The fire started at about 4.30am on Monday and destroyed another five shacks. Two other unknown males also lost their lives.

Nondonga was among several residents busy with mop-up operations and searching through the debris to salvage valuables. The local councillor arranged for material to rebuild the structures that were gutted by the fire.

Nondonga said: “I last saw my brother at around 10pm on Sunday. After spending about an hour with him I went home and he went to bed. At around 4am people were screaming at my house that my brother’s shack was on fire.

“At his shack, a large crowd was trying to extinguish the blaze. Everyone used a bucket of water to douse the fire. It was eventually extinguished when the fire and rescue services arrived.

“When the door of his shack was eventually torn down I saw the charred body of my brother sitting on the couch. It looked like he managed to get out of his bedroom but was overcome by the smoke,” Nondonga said.

Fire and Rescue Services’ Jermaine Carelse said: “At about 4.30am the City’s fire and rescue services received an emergency call of a fire in Masiphumelele. Four fire-fighting appliances, a rescue vehicle and 19 staff members managed to contain and extinguish the fire before 6am.

“While clearing the debris, three bodies were found burnt beyond recognition.”

After a walk through at the scene, community leader Funeka Mgwangqa said: “This is not the last fire here. It is festive season and one of our main problems are alcohol abuse which at times are the cause of fires. We're scared that another fire might break out and cause even more damage.”


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Cape Argus

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