On Saturday night, 120 shacks burnt down and a one-year-old baby lost his life when the indoor shacks in Marlboro, Sandton, caught fire.
Little Simphiwe Ndinisa’s family said the baby died after inhaling smoke from the fire.
His father Joseph Chauke, 31, told The Star that he had tried all he could to save his second-born child, but it was too late.
“When I wanted to get into the house I found my eldest son shouting out telling me that there was a fire and that his brother was still inside the house,” said Chauke.
A distraught Chauke ran into the house to save baby Simphiwe, resulting in an injury to his head.
Xolile Zwane, the baby’s aunt, said: “When I arrived here, my sister told me that one child was still in the building and that his father tried to run into the building to fetch him.”
According to Zwane, Chauke came out of the building and fell to the ground, saying his son had burnt to death inside the building.
“I am so hurt because I used to live in the same building. In 2010, the same building had burnt,” said Zwane.
Simphiwe’s mother, Nokukhanya Ndinisa, 24, was overwhelmed by emotions and couldn’t stop crying.
City of Joburg MMC for health and social development Dr Mpho Phalatse went to visit the bereaved family. He was told that no one in the family was employed and that they qualified for the city’s indigent burial scheme.
“Our social workers have come through to assess the situation, and I can say with certainty that we will assist with the funeral arrangements,” said Phalatse.
According to Phalatse there is suspicion the fire may have started due to an electric stove.
The police were still investigating.
“The City of Joburg will ensure that they have services. We have received confirmation from Johannesburg Water that there are 30 chemical toilets and JoJo tanks.
“The land itself is an Eskom area, but we have contacted City Power to facilitate with Eskom for the provision of electricity on the temporary site,” said Phalatse.
Gauteng MEC for Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs Paul Mashatile was saddened by the news of another death due to fire which burnt an illegally occupied factory.
Mashatile said: “I am devastated that a young life has been lost as a result of fire. This is one life too many that has been lost and I express our heartfelt condolences to the bereaved family. I also wish the father of the child a speedy recovery.
“We have initiated relief efforts with the Provincial Disaster Management Centre (PDMC) mobilising departments like Home Affairs, Gauteng Economic Development, Education and Social Development and the City of Joburg to join in the relief efforts,” Mashatile said.
“An initial needs analysis has been conducted, and 120 families have been displaced.
“While a site for a temporary shelter is being identified, the PDMC is distributing tents and blankets, while food is being served to those affected,” he said.
“We appeal to citizens, NGOs and business to also lend a hand to alleviate the plight of the displaced families.”