Young man dies in a shack fire

Community leader Sabelo Mekuto shows Vukani the covered body of Mongezi Sam.

Daliwonga Sam is grieving for his only son – Mongezi Sam burnt to death in his one-room shack in Khayelitsha’s Endlovini informal settlement.

The fire started at about 4am on Monday May 15.

Residents said they had heard Mongezi returning in the early hours from a night out. They believe the fire started after he possibly fell asleep while heating up some food.

Fire and Rescue’s Liezl Moodie said an “undetermined ignition source” had ignited combustible materials in the shack.

Residents said the fire had spread fast and had consumed three more shacks before they had been able to douse it.

Vukani arrived later that morning to find a place of ash and sorrow.

When Mr Sam, 55, of Harare section, heard of the fire, he rushed to his son’s shack hoping he had escaped. It was not to be.

He said he had felt faint looking at the charred remains of his child.

“I don’t know how to feel, and my whole body just feels numb,” he said.

“How will I bury him when I’m unemployed? I was hoping that he would be there to provide for the family when I’m gone, but now it’s the other way around. He was only 22 years old.”

Mongezi, he said, had been a people’s person and had never wanted to hurt other people, not even when he had been drunk.

Mr Sam said his life would never be the same without his boy. Mzwakhe Simon’s neighbours called him to tell him his shack was gone and with it all his belongings. He said he had been devastated to learn of his neighbour’s death.

“No one has the power to wake a dead person, and I truly feel sad about how this young man lost his life,” he said.

Community leader Sabelo Mekuto said he had alerted residents after seeing flames at Mongezi’s shack. The fire could have been avoided if the government had sped up development and built decent houses in the area, he said.

The City’s disaster risk management is giving victims of the fire materials to rebuild, but Mr Mekuto worries that with winter looming it won’t be long before fire returns to the settlement.