Fatal shack fire

Bonginkosi Madikizela chats with the relatives of the late family, including Getrude Makhanda, left.

Relatives of a Lower Crossroads family that was wiped out in a shack fire on Wednesday July 25, say it still feels like a dream.

The family of six – two adults Lukhangele Makhanda, 35, and Nosimanye Masitha, 35, and their four children Sinovuyo, 9, Sisipho, 6, Yamkela, 4, and Isivile Masitha, 2 – were burnt to ashes when their home caught fire on Wednesday morning, sending shockwaves through the neighbourhood.

Family spokesperson Liza Petersen said her aunt, Gertrude Makhanda, 70, who lost her son, daughter-in-law and four grandchildren, would not recover easily from the tragedy.

She said the news came while Ms Makhanda was still coming to terms with the loss of her daughter a year ago.

“This is too traumatising for her. She is unable to speak to the media right now. The wound is still new. This came like a dream. Her son was the breadwinner. She is helping three other grandchildren from her daughter who died last year. It will be hard for her to recover,” she said.

Ms Petersen added that the family was humbled and overwhelmed with the support they had received from the community.

During a visit to the family on Thursday July 27, Human Settlements MEC Bonginkosi Madikizela expressed his condolences, saying the City had experienced numerous tragedies, but not of that

“One does not even know what to say to the family. It is difficult to comfort them knowing that they have lost six members. But as the government, we need to show support. We need to care about our people. It is our job to comfort them and bring hope,” he said.

Mr Madikizela said the provincial government would try to assist where possible.

Neighbours Asakhe and Welile Tida said they witnessed the family perish in the fire and pointed out that the matter was made worse by the fact that there was a padlock on the door.

Mr Tida said he and other neighbours had tried to get into the family’s home, but could not. Inside, they could hear people crying for help.

“It was a bad moment. The problem was the padlock. It just refused to open. We even tried to take out one sleet, but we could not. Some were calling the fire brigade. I had to drive to Fezeka municipal office to fetch the fire brigade. But it was too late,” he said.

He said neighbours were also traumatised by the incident.