Fire kills one, leaves scores homeless

Thandisile Kolanis said he was still shocked and traumatised by his relative Thabo Dywanisis death.

Phantsi Kwecingo informal settlement resident Thabo Dywanisi died instantly when an inferno swept through the area on Sunday November 12, leaving more than hundred others homeless.

The residents told Vukani that Mr Dywanisi had been trying to save his belongings when the fire got to his shack.

Relative Thandisile Kolanisi said Mr Dywanisi had just moved out his fridge, and had gone inside to save other items when fire and smoke engulfed his shack.

A devastated Mr Kolanisi said he tried in vain to alert him but everything happened quickly and he was unable to save Mr Dywanisi.

Mr Kolanisi described Mr Dywanisi as a lovely person who had lived a peaceful life and had no problems with other people.

He said the rest of the family was still traumatised.

Mr Kolanisi said he had informed other family members and would probably have a meeting in the coming days to discuss the funeral arrangements.

He said they had been living in the area for more two decades and argued that if the government had provided them with proper housing, none of this would have happened.

“We have lost an innocent soul. The big question now is who is next.

“People don’t have electricity and have no access to toilets.

“The shacks were so closely clustered, it was extremely difficult to douse the fire,” he said.

Mr Kolanisi said another resident had died in a fire earlier this year.

When Vukani arrived in the area on Monday November 13, the residents were cleaning up and salvaging what they could.

Nandipha Nzungo said she lost everything and that the fire had been the worst they had experienced.

“I don’t have my ID and I’m unemployed. How will I rebuild my life? We slept outside with the children. We have tried almost everything to voice our frustration about these appalling living conditions.

“But our efforts seemingly were not good enough,” she said.

Ms Nzungo said she hoped that government would provide them with houses or move them to a better area.

City of Cape Town Fire and Rescue Service, spokesperson, Theodore Layne, said fire and rescue services responded at about 10pm. Sixty structures were destroyed, he said, one man suffered fatal burn wounds and others were left homeless.

“The incident was handed over to SAPS and the cause of the fire is undetermined,” he added.

Ward councillor Nkululeko Mgolombane accused government of being sluggish in delivering services to the community.

He admitted that the area had been there for years and said that people were living underneath the power cables.

He said he was aware that an amount of R460 000 had been put aside by the City to purchase land to move the residents to. But, he said, the City argued that it was battling to find vacant land.