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Tshwane blamed for massive inferno that displaced family of 10 as house, business destroyed

Firefighters extinguish a fire that broke out in Soshanguve leaving 10 family members displaced. Picture: Oupa Mokoena/African News Agency (ANA)

Firefighters extinguish a fire that broke out in Soshanguve leaving 10 family members displaced. Picture: Oupa Mokoena/African News Agency (ANA)

Published May 18, 2022

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The City of Tshwane has been fingered in an inferno that displaced a pensioner-headed family of 10 and left them in dire straits after their house and family business went up in smoke.

The fire left Soshanguve Block H residents stunned after witnessing the massive blaze in the middle of the township where hundreds of tyres began burning which scared neighbours and employees at the next door petrol filling station on the M43.

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The home belonged to Boy Sibanda, 79, and Flora Malahlela, 75, who have been earning their living by recycling tyres for over four decades and created employment for their children and two assistants who also lived with them.

The community joined the family in blaming the City for failing to adequately fix a fault on an electricity pole that used to catch fire. They said the last fire was in December but it was not fixed properly.

A Firefighters walks past tyres near a filling station after an fire broke out in Soshanguve. Picture: Oupa Mokoena/African News Agency (ANA)

They claimed that the fire started on the pole but as the cable started burning, the fire spread to the tyres which started burning violently and set alight a big mango tree which transferred some of the fire to the house and sent the family running for their lives somewhere after 3am.

A heartbroken Kgomotso Malahlela, 39, said they were lucky to come out alive because the fire needed four fire engines who worked tirelessly to put it out.

"Right now I am worried about the children who lost everything including their school uniforms. We have two boys, 15, who go to  Boepathutse Secondary School. We have a girl, 10, who goes to Sediba-Sa-Tsebo Primary School and another girl, 21, who is doing her matric at Senthibele Senior Secondary School.

"There are too many of us and now we have to split up and see who gets taken by which family, relative or friend. It is just a whole big mess. Even the clothes I am wearing now were given to me by a friend. We lost everything. We only saved the bakkie and that is all.

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"We are not rich people so to recover from here is impossible. We had a contract that pays us R7 000 a month per 1 000 tyres. We are at a big loss and it breaks our hearts to look at that pile right now.

"We hope the municipality can come and take accountability because we need every assistance we can get. Anyone who can assist can contact me on 083 438 7158," said Kgomotso Malahlela.

Firefighters extinguish a fire that broke out in Soshanguve leaving 10 family members displaced. Picture: Oupa Mokoena/African News Agency (ANA)

A neighbour, Robert Lebese, said people that were close did not sleep because they were worried that their homes would also catch fire.

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"This house is next to a fuel filling station so we were all worried about a possible explosion. The ground was hot because of the intensity of the fire. We give all thanks to the Lord for being with us and ensuring that nobody was hurt in the process."

Ward 34 community leaders in Soshanguve Block H Sammy Mathonsi (067 120 6485) and Lasi Maway (071 181 588) said they have already begun asking for assistance for the family and hope that people come forward with donations.

Mathonsi said: "As grown as we are we were raised by those elderly parents in that family. They are very good people and we all know them. This family house was a home to some of us at some stage in our lives.

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"We really hope the City of Tshwane can come and take accountability. We do not want fights, complaints and drama. We want everybody to come together so that we can help the family. You can see they are not angry at anyone. They are just traumatised. We should assist them."

Tshwane Emergency Services Department Spokesperson Deputy Chief Charles Mabaso said they received a call about 5am and upon arrival the house was already ablaze.

"So far, the report is that a family of 10 has been affected. A fire safety officer has been activated to investigate the cause of the fire. Disaster management and social development departments have also been activated for social relief intervention," said Mabaso.

Masabo said they were made aware of the allegation that the fire was a product of a faulty electricity pole and they have activated the electricity department and the fire safety officer to investigate those claims.

Pretoria News

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