Eight homes destroyed by fire

A woman walking across the burnt area.

Twenty-five-year-old Saphokazi Dyantyi and her family are among eight households in Marikana informal settlement in Philippi East who were left homeless after a fire swept through the area on Sunday night.

And Ms Dyantyi claims it was a neighbour, allegedly drunk at the time, who caused the blaze when he left an unattended pot on a stove that started the fire.

Ms Dyantyi, who lives with her three-year-old son and boyfriend told Vukani the fire started around 5pm.

“Our neighbour came back drunk (and) while preparing food for his two children, they ran out to call for help as soon as the fire erupted,” she said.

“The man allegedly reported himself to the police but we don’t know whether he is arrested or not because we haven’t seen him since Sunday,” she added.

And emotional Ms Dyantyi said she was battling to come to terms with having lost her newly furnished shack.

“My boyfriend and I lost everything we’ve worked hard for. We recently renovated the shack not so long ago, but now we lost everything and we have to start all over.

“We have nowhere else to go, my child’s birth certificate, our personal documents and our shacks are completely destroyed by the fire,” she said.

When they heard the neighbour’s children screaming for help, she added: “We came out and it was too late. The shack was already on fire and the fire was coming to our direction. There was big billowing smoke.”

While they waited for firefighters to arrive, Ms Dyantyi said, the rest of the neighbours tried to douse the fire with buckets of water but it was too little too late, and they watched everything they worked hard for, burn into ashes.

“I’m asking for anyone who can to please assist us with clothes and food, we are in desperate need of anything at this point,” she said.

When Vukani visited on Monday some residents were busy rebuilding their homes.

City of Cape Town’s disaster risk management spokesperson, Samuel Freeman said the blaze destroyed eight structures leaving 20 people affected.

The informal settlement management was activated to provide starter kits. The SASSA was requested to provide humanitarian relief,” Mr Freeman said.