Fire leaves 250 homeless

GRIM SIGHT: Residents of George Goch informal settlement in Johannesburg sit in what used to be their dwellings after a fire burnt down about 56 shacks on Sunday. PHOTO: VATHISWA RUSELO
GRIM SIGHT: Residents of George Goch informal settlement in Johannesburg sit in what used to be their dwellings after a fire burnt down about 56 shacks on Sunday. PHOTO: VATHISWA RUSELO

RESIDENTS of George Goch informal settlement in Joburg are baying for the blood of a woman who allegedly caused a fire that razed about 56 shacks on Sunday

The residents said the woman had fled the area.

They have been sleeping in the open since the incident. Some said they slept on the ground using blankets donated by Good Samaritans.

"We want her to explain why she did what she did," resident Khayekazi Madonci said yesterday.

Madonci is among 250 residents who lost their belongings when their shacks were burnt down.

Dwellers told Sowetan that they all watched helplessly as the fire consumed their shacks.

"My child has also lost his clothes, birth certificate and clinic card. I really don't know what to do," Madonci said.

Dwellers accused the woman of leaving her paraffin stove burning when she went out on Sunday afternoon. It is alleged that the stove overturned and caused the blaze.

Another resident, Zodwa Sithole, said she was outside her shack with neighbours when she realised her shack was burning.

"I wonder what would have happened had the fire started when we were asleep," Sithole said.

Residents said there was no way they could have saved their belongings.

Some said they had lost their ID books and their children's birth certificates.

They pleaded for anyone to provide them with food and blankets.

Resident Monwabisi Salane said he was on his way to watch his favourite team Orlando Pirates on TV at nearby houses when he was called by neighbours.

"I am very hurt that my belongings, including my Orlando Pirates regalia, were burnt to ashes," a weeping Salane said.

DA provincial leader Jack Bloom said yesterday they spent the night with the residents on Tuesday.

"These people have lost everything and they deserve to be assisted," Bloom said.

" I intend to sleep one night every month at an informal settlement where people are most marginalised and forgotten in this province."

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