'I was so scared, I thought I was going to die'

Kamogelo Seekoei

Kamogelo Seekoei

When Thomas Mashele woke up in the early hours of yesterday morning to find his shack on fire, he had no other option but to run for his life.

Fearing that death was close and the clothes he was wearing were burning, Mashele, 28, woke up his friends and they all bolted for the door, leaving everything behind.

The Mozambican national is one of the people who survived an inferno that claimed three lives and rendered 72 families homeless in Alexandra, Johannesburg, yesterday.

"I was woken by the sound of things falling. I was so scared when I saw the fire, I thought I was going to die," he said.

Mashele lived next door to the shack where the fire started.

His neighbour was allegedly drunk when he arrived home late and started cooking.

In his alleged drunken stupor he left his stove on and fell asleep, unaware of the chain of events he had started.

And he did not live to tell the tale.

Petros Malinga, a brother to another victim, said he did not know how they were going to get his brother to Zimbabwe where they want him to be buried.

He said his brother's wife survived the inferno because she left for Zimbabwe on Friday.

"I sent her a message, but I don't know whether she knows that her husband is dead," he said.

The third victim was from the Eastern Cape.

Meanwhile Mashele still had no idea as to where he was going to sleep when night fell and how he was going to get to work the next day.

"Will I still be smelling like this?" he asked.

Another survivor David Molepo said he did not know how he was going to feed his family.

"I lost everything, my furniture, clothes and even food. I have nothing," he said.

He was also among the many people who did not know where they were going to sleep last night.

Sam Ramashaba, of the Alexandra Renewal Project, said there was no shelter for the survivors.