Paddling through the ashy remains of her belongings guttered by the fire in Dukathole, Germiston, Gogo Thelma Loyiti (66) says she has lost everything she owned.
Reliving the unfortunate events of 17 September, Loyiti said she lost all her important documents in the fire, including her clinic card and she is due to attend her clinic appointment as she has a chronic heart condition.
“When the fire broke out and my shack was affected, the only thing I thought of was my identity document, clinic card and my grandchildren’s child support grant cards because without those documents, we are as good as dead.”
Despite her distress, Loyiti says she is grateful that her life and that of her five grandchildren were spared from the fire, which began in extension 8 when a paraffin stove in one of the shacks exploded.
The fire spread, engulfing 23 shacks at the informal settlement, leaving untold devastation.
However, the City of Ekurhuleni’s speedy intervention and that of other government departments, such as Home Affairs, has brought much relief to the victims, especially with the reissuing of their identity documents.
Loyiti said she was relieved when officials from Home Affairs came through and took down their identity particulars to facilitate the replacement of the documents.
The City’s Department of Human Settlements also has begun the process of rebuilding structures with new material for the victims.
“I greatly appreciate the… food parcels and the blankets we have received. It is difficult to face children who expect food in this helpless situation. I also want to thank our neighbours who took us in when we were desperate and had no place to sleep,” said Loyiti.
Ekurhuleni’s Member of the Mayoral Committee (MMC) for Human Settlements, Lesiba Mpya, has assured the residents of Dukathole that the City will do everything possible to restore the dignity and safety of the affected.
“The City’s service providers are onsite to assess the situation while continuing with erecting new shack structures. We continue to urge residents to be cautious when dealing with hazardous items to avoid injuries and loss of life.
“We are currently in the process of installing electricity in the area to avoid the recurrence of these ordeals in future,” Mpya said.
The City is also providing emergency relief at Makausi and Delport informal settlements, where fire destroyed shacks on Saturday, 15 September and Tuesday, 18 September, respectively.
Over 50 shacks were destroyed at Makausi and 13 shacks were destroyed at Delport. The City has provided blankets, food parcel and rebuilding of shacks as part of the emergency relief package.
Residents are urged not to leave cooking or heating fires unattended.
The City is rolling out a re-blocking programme for informal settlements, which seeks to ensure that shacks are properly aligned so that basic services can be provided including electricity, water, sanitation, waste collection and graded roads. About 119 informal settlements are targeted during this period.
It will also create space between shacks so that fires do not spread quickly, while making easy access for fire engines and personnel. – SAnews.gov.za