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Thu Dec 08 20:08:02 SAST 2016

'ID and lawn mower were the only things I could save' – Durban shack dwellers count cost of blaze

Bongani Mthethwa | 2016-11-30 12:03:33.0
File photo of a firefighter.
Image by: Gallo Images/ IStock

Tuckshop owner Tusokwakhe Mthethwa lost everything in a devastating fire which razed about 10 shacks at the Springfield Industrial Park area in Durban on Wednesday morning.

Mthethwa‚ 39‚ was left with just the clothes he was wearing‚ an African National Congress T-shirt and a tracksuit after the fire completely destroyed his home and tuckshop. He also lost R1000 in cash.

It is unclear what started the fire which took more than an hour to extinguish. The eThekwini Metro Fire Brigade responded immediately after the alarm was raised.

Looking exhausted and dejected‚ Mthethwa said he was bathing and preparing to go to town to buy stock for his tuckshop when he heard people screaming that there was a fire.

“I couldn’t do anything because the fire was already too close. I just ran outside without saving any of my belongings. I lost everything‚ including my two cellphones and R1000 cash‚” he said.

He has operated a tuckshop in the informal settlement since 2010 and it was his only source of income.

Some shack owners were at work when the fire started and had to come back to the sight of their gutted homes. Others were able to salvage a few items such as blankets‚ TVs‚ radios and clothes.

Some devastated residents were heard lamenting the fact that they would struggle through Christmas and the New Year.

Unemployed Khanyisani Ngcobo‚ 32‚ who ekes out a living by mowing people’s lawns‚ was only able to salvage his ID and his lawn mower.

“I had just left to look for some piecemeal jobs when somebody called me to say there was a fire. I ran back as quickly as possible and my ID and lawn mower were the only things I could save‚” said Ngcobo.

– TMG Digital/The Times

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