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‘How varsity protest forced me to live in a shelter’

The Fees Must Fall protests had dire consequences for café employee Eddie at the University of Cape .

We just wanted to get out alive

By unknown | Oct 07, 2008 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

Penwell Dlamini

Penwell Dlamini

First there was a big bang and soon fire and smoke filled the eighth floor flat the three women occupied.

Nosizile Dube, who survived by jumping to the from the seventh floor, describes what happened: "I was asleep. I was woken up by a loud bang. My cousin and our friend ran out. I followed.

"Our idea was to swing from the eighth floor balcony rail so that we land on the seventh floor balcony below.

"We thought going through the door and following the passage would be dangerous.

"We did not know how big the fire was. All we wanted was to get out."

Her cousin Sharon Mpofu an their 24-year-old friend died. Both women fell eight floors down.

Dube managed to swing herself inward, crashing on to the floor of a seventh level balcony.

The incident happened at Cardiff Arms flats in Berea.

"I tried to tell them not to jump from the balcony but the smoke was too strong, forcing them to take a chance," eyewitness Themba Nondo said.

Nondo, 42, is the uncle of two surviving women.

The fire is believed to have been caused by an explosion of the electricity distribution board.

Mpofu slipped and fell to the ground floor. The 24- year-old was not so lucky and died after the fall.

"We had no electricity yesterday and we called the head office to fix the problem and the technicians only came today," said Nondo.

He said just when the technicians reconnected the electricity at the ground floor's main box, the distribution box in their flat exploded.

"I went outside and saw smoke coming from my room. I then saw the three standing on the balcony," he said.

The distribution box was situated next to the door, the only exit from the flat.

The 24-year-old was declared dead by paramedics on the scene.

"Sharon stood for a moment but the smoke was getting stronger so she also tried to swing to the seventh floor and also fell straight down," said Nondo.

Mpofu, who broke both her limbs, died last night at the Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Academic Hospital.

Dube was also taken to hospital for a medical examination.


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