Informal settlement residents had awoken to no electricity and they suspect the fire was started by a candle in Thembinkosi Mncwango’s shack.
Mncwango’s brothers, who also live in the informal settlement, awoke to find the shacks on fire and only noticed that Mncwango was missing at about 5am. When they arrived at what was left of his shack, they found pieces of bones there.
It took firefighters 10 hours to completely extinguish the blaze using three fire engines. EThekwini Fire Division Commander Trevor Stevens described it as the biggest fire he had seen in the past 10 years at the informal settlement.
Mncwango’s sister-in-law, Anipho Nkosi, told the Daily News they had already completed preparations for Mncwango’s funeral which was initially scheduled to take place last Saturday.
The Mncwango family, who are from Nongoma, said they had planned to transport Mncwango’s remains last Friday and were frustrated to learn they could not do so when they arrived at the Magwaza Maphalala (Gale Street) Mortuary.
“We have been using money for transport going back and forth to the mortuary because the first time we went there, we were told the doctor meant to release the body was not there and we were told to come back the next day which was the Friday, when we were supposed to take the body home,” said Nkosi.
That Friday, they were told the remains could not be released until DNA tests were completed to confirm the remains were of their relative. They were also told this could take six months.
“Everything was ready for the funeral. We used a lot of money travelling from Nongoma to collect the body. It was very frustrating. While I understand that they have to be sure we bury the right person, it also, to a certain degree, makes no sense because there is no one else who went missing after the fire and his remains were where his shack had been,” said Nkosi.
“As black people when someone dies, we light candles and someone has to sit on a mattress during the mourning phase. We have had to have a small ritual to appease our ancestors and let them know that the funeral is not going to happen soon,” an emotional Nkosi said.