Witness says fire that left over 20 homeless was started by man high on tik

| Pharie Sefali
A fire in an Mfuleni hostel gutted the place and surrounding shacks. Photo by Masixole Feni.

At noon on 10 December more than 20 people were left homeless by a fire at a hostel in Mfuleni.

Thuli Ndukumbeni who stays in the hostel says she witnessed how the fire started.

She says a man who owns a shack in the hostel yard started the fire. But she is not sure if he did it intentionally. “Thabo [name changed] started to act weird a few minutes before the fire started. He smokes tik, and I think that yesterday he smoked too much.”

“He was crying the whole time and he took things from his shack and threw them outside. He later took two bricks and hit himself with them on the feet hard. While he was doing this he had his face covered with a T-shirt he was wearing,” says Ndukumbeni.

She says that while some of the elders in the yard were trying to talk to him, a fire started in his shack.

“A fire exploded while we were busy talking to him. We were all surprised and attended the fire even though it was too late,” says Ndukumbeni.

Since then Thabo has disappeared.

Sandiswa Ndukumbeni, Thuli’s mother, says the fire spread to two other houses and seven other shacks. “The fire caught us off-guard and when it happened we were still in shock. We were not able to save any of the our belongings and I have nothing, not even clothing.”

Currently the victims are staying at a nearby crèche and say that they have been attended to by the City of Cape Town’s Disaster Management. They have been promised material to rebuild their houses by Friday.

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TOPICS:  Housing

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