Picture: for illustration purposes

Devastating Shack Fire Claims Lives, Homes in Ekuphumuleni Informal Settlement

Published September 21, 2023
9 months ago

A ghastly shack fire erupted in Ekuphumuleni settlement, Joe Slovo Park, Milnerton, in Cape Town on Saturday night. The incident left three people dead and 73 without shelter as 20 shacks, including some two-storey structures, were reduced to ashes.

The victims of the tragic event were reportedly from Malawi, according to community leader Cowen Banjatwa. Mr. Banjatwa further used this incident as an appeal to local authorities to de-densify the informal squatter camp and ensure basic provisions such as water for the inhabitants.

One of the now-homeless survivors, Raymond Chiweshe, stated that the deceased were his neighbours. He narrated how he was oblivious to the raging fire until a neighbour awakened him. Chiweshe joined forces with others in an attempt to halt the flames when he realized his own dwelling was engulfed.

His escape was not without difficulty, as smoke had obscured his path to the door. Though he lost all his belongings, Chiweshe was most saddened by the loss of his Zimbabwean passport, his wife's ID, and documents necessary to claim from his provident fund after retrenchment.

In a response, Charlotte Powell, Spokesperson for the City of Cape Town Disaster Risk Management, stated that SASSA has been notified to provide assistance. In the meantime, the City was occupied with debris clearance.

Fire and Rescue Spokesperson, Jermaine Carelse specified that they received the distress call around 10:50pm. A squad of forty firefighters from different fire stations responded, managing to completely extinguish the flames around 1:20am.

Speaking on casualties, Carelse mentioned that two males and a female lost their lives to burn injuries. The South African Police Service has taken over the investigation into the cause of the fire.

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