Ravaged by fires

SOUTH AFRICA - Cape Town - 24 February 2020. People are rebuilding informal structures follwing a fatal fire in Wallacedene. Two persons died in a fire in the early hours of Sunday morning. According to the City of Cape Town, at about 02:30 the City's Fire & Rescue Service responded to informal structures alight in Mfeketo Street, Wallacedene. Brackenfell's fire crew arrived first on scene and immediately requested more assistance as a strong wind was fanning the fire. It took firefighters almost 2 hours to extinguish the fire. The bodies of a man and woman were discovered in the same structure. The fire was extinguished at 04:47 and the scene was handed over to the South African Police Service. Picture Henk Kruger/African News Agency (ANA)

Wallacedene residents say they are sleeping with one eye open, fearing that yet another fire could destroy their homes.

This comes after the charred body of Mavis Khau, 37, and her boyfriend were found in their burnt shack in Mfeketo Street last Sunday, February 23.

Two other residents were injured and 30 shacks were destroyed in the fire just after 2am that morning.

More than 70 people were left destitute.

The City’s Fire and Rescue Service spokesman Jermaine Carelse said it took firefighters nearly two hours to extinguish the fire.

Residents said this was the seventh fire to sweep through the informal settlement this year.

Lynda Mbembeni, 63, said she lost everything in a fire that destroyed 73 shacks in Gumede Street on Thursday January 16. Fortunately, no one was injured and no fatalities were recorded (“Wallacedene fire leaves scores homeless,” Northern News, January 17.)

“It is sad to see your home go up in flames and then we have to rebuild the shacks with nothing in and start all over again. But we don’t know when the next one (fire) is coming,” she said.

Oliver Roliswa, 43, said his home went up in flames on Thursday February 13 and he could not forget how he was woken up by the screams of the neighbours, who shouted for him to get out of his shack.

“I woke my wife and my kids and we rushed outside. People were running around here not knowing what to do and where to go. It was very (traumatising),” he said.