Mayor to honour Nigel fire heroes

Pretoria - Individuals who risked their lives to help save the elderly living at the Pieter Wessels Old Age Home in Nigel where a fire broke out recently are to be honoured at a special function.

The Executive Mayor of Ekurhuleni, Ntombi Mekgwe, will officially acknowledge the people who formed part of the relief effort at the old age home at the Nigel City Hall, tomorrow. She is expected to show her appreciation for their bravery and the way in which the incident was managed.

"The municipality regrets the loss of life due to the blaze. However, it acknowledges that without the speedy response by fire fighters, rescue services teams and other role players, the situation could have been much worse," said municipal spokesman Zweli Dlamini.

The municipality's emergency services responded to an emergency call and the Duduza team was first on site and immediately called for back-up when they discovered that the fire was spreading fast. Six other stations responded to deal with the aggressive blaze.

Despite their efforts, 23 people lost their lives. Around 40 other senior citizens were moved to a nearby place of safety.

Those who survived lost all their belongings and suffered severe trauma. The Gauteng Department of Health and Social Development has offered services including counseling to the survivors, their families and the families of the deceased. The Department of Home Affairs and South African Social Security Agency are to assist the residents with identification of documents that were destroyed during the fire.

Donations of food and clothes are still needed and can be dropped off at Zanele Mbeki Home near the Vlakfontein Cemetery. Financial donations can be deposited into the following account: TC Adra, Absa Bank, account number: 1001390755, branch code: 334143. Please make the reference: P Wessels FCC.

Members of the public can also contact Pastor Louis Gouws, the director of the Pieter Wessels Home at 016 342 0308.