51 people homeless after fire in Dunoon

“My whole life was in that shack”

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Nomvelo Ndikandika is among 51 residents of Ekuphumuleni informal settlement in Dunoon who lost their belongings when their shacks burned down on Saturday morning. Photo: Peter Luhanga

Community members of Ekuphumuleni informal settlement in Dunoon, Cape Town, suspect thieves started a fire which gutted 14 shacks at the weekend and left 51 people homeless.

But fire victim, Xolani Conana, said the community believe the fire started in a shack where “amapharas” (thieves) lived. Residents had collectively agreed to not allow them to rebuild their structure. Instead, they would keep the plot vacant and install poles for a communal clothesline, he said.

Conana lost all his belongings. He shared a two-roomed shack with his wife and two children, aged 11 and 13. He managed to save some important documents, such as his ID, which were in a bag he grabbed as he ran out of the shack.

Another fire victim, Nomvelo Ndikandika, lived in a two-room shack with her husband and three children, aged four, nine and 16.

Ndikandika said she was woken by her husband who alerted her that neighbouring shacks were engulfed by flames. She grabbed a bag containing her ID, children’s birth certificates, and bank cards when she fled with the children.

“My whole life was in that shack,” she said.

Ndikandika said she was particularly heartbroken about the loss of her children’s school uniforms and books, and a month’s worth of groceries she had bought on discount only a week earlier.

“My children can’t go to school. I am particularly worried about my 16-year-old in grade 10.”

She said household belongings they had attempted to salvage were stolen by people pretending to help them.

City of Cape Town Fire and Rescue Services spokesperson Edward Bosch said the cause of the fire was yet to be established.

Disaster Risk Management spokesperson Charlotte Powell said, “Humanitarian assistance has been requested from SASSA.”

Many families have begun rebuilding their homes with what they could salvage from the fire.

TOPICS:  Fire Housing

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