More than 150 families are homeless after a fire swept through Zone 17 in Langa over the weekend, destroying 50 shacks and formal semi-detached houses.
While residents believe the fire was caused by a fault in an illegal electrical connection on the evening of Saturday January 26, Fire and Rescue Services have not confirmed this. It took more than two hours to extinguish the blaze as residents tried in vain to salvage their belongings.
When Vukani visited the area in the aftermath of the devastation, residents said they used to draw their electricity from the nearby hostels, since a fire in 2011 these connections had not been restored.
Now they illegally tap into the supply of other areas, they said.
Resident Vuyiseka Qose said the fire started in her shack around 8pm while she was at home with her two children, watching TV.
She said she noticed a huge cloud of smoke coming from the bed room and when she went to investigate, the flames had already engulfed the entire room.
Ms Qose, who immediately rushed outside and called for help, lost everything.
She said the problems started on Friday afternoon, when there was a fault in cables illegally connected to supply electricity to the area.
Residents, however, managed to sort out the problem, only for it to recur the next day, causing the devastating fire. “I have no idea what to do. It feels like my life has collapsed. I had been living in the area for more than a decade and nothing seems to be done to bring service delivery,” she said.
“We want to be moved into decent houses. We have tried almost everything to voice our frustration about these appalling living conditions, but our efforts were not good enough.
“I hope we could get a decent place to live. We always live in fear that fire could be destroy our homes. I’m glad that no one died but we are not always going to be lucky,” she said.
Fire and Rescue Services spokesman Theo Layne confirmed the incident, but said at this point the cause was as yet undetermined.
He added that no injuries were reported.
Ward councillor Samkelo John said because the shacks were built next to hostels, the residents were considered backyarders, to whom the City does not supply separate electricity connections.
However, he said, he had engaged the City a number of times with the aim of persuading them to install electricity and follow-up meetings were being planned to discuss the matter.