Raging blaze leaves 30 CT families homeless

23 12 2010

2010-12-22 07:24:05.0 | Unathi Obose – SowetanA 35-YEAR-OLD man burnt to death during a fire that destroyed 10 shacks in Cape Town’s Samora Machel informal settlement late on Monday.

The fire is thought to have started at a local meat stall and allegedly left 30 families homeless.

Resident Busiswa Joni, 19, said the fire started at a local meat stall and quickly spread to the shack behind it.

“We tried to extinguish the blaze using water and sand but could not because of the strong wind,” Joni said.

“We don’t know how this fire started. The stall was not operating at the time since the owner went to Eastern Cape two months ago.”

People at the scene lambasted the provincial government for the housing backlog in the area.

They said if the government had provided them with decent houses the fire would not have affected them.

Lizo Phacwane, 40, said he lost everything in the blaze.

“I was asleep and heard people shouting ‘fire, fire’. I grabbed a bucket, ran to the tap and fetched water to help my neighbours extinguish the fire,” he said.

The fire spread quickly and burnt down Phacwane’s shack. He said he did not even have time to go into the shack to fetch his identity document and driver’s licence.

A distraught Phacwane said he sent his wife and three children to Eastern Cape on Sunday and did not know what he would tell them.

Security officer Chumani Liwa’s shack was partially damaged by the raging blaze. He thanked his neighbours for saving his shack and belongings.

“I was at work when the fire started, but my neighbours broke the window and saved my fridge, bed and blankets. I lost only my TV and clothes,” he said.

Liwa lambasted ANC councillor Monwabisi Mbaliswana. He accused him of making false promises.

“Mbaliswana promised us houses a long time ago but each year they put stickers on our doors saying they are still counting us,” said Liwa, showing Sowetan three stickers pasted on his door.

Mbaliswana defended himself. He said he was in talks with Western Cape MEC for human settlements Bonginkosi Madikizela to relocate the community.

“We are waiting for Madikizela to allocate us land. We cannot build houses in this area,” he said.

As usual after a shack fire each family will receive three packets of nails, 10 poles and five sheets of corrugated iron from the city’s department of informal settlements. Residents claim the material is not enough to rebuild a shack.

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