JERRY and Oumie Motheiwane of Kagiso on Gauteng's West Rand were devastated when their four-room shack burnt down.
Oumie was in hospital for a breast cancer operation when word came that her home had benn reduced to cinders. Nothing remained of the furniture and clothing she had accumulated over the years.
Her misery was compounded by the fact that her older children were writing year-end exams.
"Neighbours fetched me from the Helen Joseph Hospital at midnight when my mkhukhu burnt down," Oumie said. "The children were taken in by the neighbours.
"One of my neighbours told me to ask Mama Angel for help. I did so without much hope."
Mama Angel brought relief and happiness to the family by paying for a new home in time for Christmas. The new shack has two rooms and is locally made in Ext 12.
Teresia Kweyama, a ward committee member for block 5, said this was the fifth shack to catch fire this year.
"There are no taps or water in the yards. We don't have flushing toilets or electricity. It is difficult for the fire brigade to negotiate the narrow streets and by the time they got here everything was ashes.
"Our local councillor, Ms Mfaba, came with some clothes, blankets and food. She said she would bring more but it would take time."
Kweyama lent the couple a tiny shack and took in their eldest son, who is in Grade 10.
"We are grateful to our neighbours who helped us. My husband is a casual worker and I am a full-time housewife. I also look after my late sister's children," Motheiwane said.
"We were afraid that we would celebrate Christmas in the open without shelter. Thanks to Sowetan our immediate worry is over."