2/2/2012. 50 People were left homeless near Johannesburg Stadium when their hijacked building caught fire in Bertrams in Johannesburg. Picture. Adrian de Kock
2/2/2012. 50 People were left homeless near Johannesburg Stadium when their hijacked building caught fire in Bertrams in Johannesburg. Picture. Adrian de Kock

Blaze puts dozens on streets

Time of article published Feb 3, 2012

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Yusuf Omar

MORE than 50 people found themselves homeless yesterday after the hijacked building which they called home in Judith’s Paarl burnt down.

Number 84 Derby Street was little more than a wet, chargrilled frame by the time the four fire trucks and 10 firefighters extinguished the blaze that started at 12.30pm.

“All I have are the clothes I’m wearing. I lost everything,” said a teary-eyed resident Robert Ngcobo.

Tandi Twane, who carried her one-year-old son on her hip and held her three-year-old son’s hand as they covered their mouths to escape the smoke, said she also did not have a place to stay. “We lost everything we owned in that room,” she said.

Ward 66 DA councillor Carlos Rocha said the property was not residential.

“The property had 18 rooms and 50 residents crammed into it. They shared just two bathrooms,” he said.

Illegal electricity connections were clearly visible.

“The City of Joburg needs to take care of slumlords,” Rocha said. “This is a lawless community. The government don’t put their foot down, and now it’s too late. Now I have 50 homeless people and a humanitarian crisis.”

“When we arrived, people were still trapped in the building. Luckily we evacuated the site without any injuries,” said emergency services spokesman Robert Mulaudzi.

“It appears the fire started when someone left a stove on in one of the rooms”

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