DJ Sbu offers comfort after deadly fire

04 August 2010 - 01:54 By GABISILE NDEBELE

Radio personality DJ Sbusiso Leope has visited the survivors of the fire that decimated the Pieter Wessels old age home in Dunnottar, Nigel, in eastern Gauteng on Sunday night.

Leope visited some of the 84 elderly and disabled people to "offer help and words of sympathy" after they were placed at the Zanele Mbeki Frail Care Centre a short distance away from their retirement village and frail care centre where the blaze claimed 22 lives. Four residents died of their injuries in hospital .

"I am here to see what I can do for my elders and offer help. I have many friends that want to help but don't know how, so I'm here to see what they [the victims] need so we can give accordingly," said Leope.

Yesterday, many of the former residents of Pieter Wessels complained of coughing badly since the fire. Some lay in bed still wearing the clothes they wore on the tragic night.

Some, who recognised Leope, smiled and wanted to shake his hand.

Mary Motloung, a fan, said: "I remember the nurses waking me up. I was angry, but when we got into the passage I saw the smoke and realised we were going to die. But I thank God I am alive. I lost everything. All I have is this torn nightdress that I was wearing on the day. I got these shoes here and, even though they don't fit me, I am grateful."

Leope, who was swamped by nurses hoping to get pictures of themselves with him, chatted to another resident, Jackson Nhlapho.

"I remember seeing the fire, I got up and started trying to take my clothes out and throw them to the people outside, but they took me and put me in a car. I ended up walking out with just what I have on," he said.

Sister Ester Leeuw said the patients and staff of Pieter Wessels had received counselling and have since seemed better.

"We have 60 residents from Pieter Wessels and 15 are being moved to another establishment. Most have had diarrhoea caused by the shock and trauma but they seem better now and are talking again," she said.

Gauteng health spokesman Mandla Sidu said three residents died on Monday night, two at Pholosong Hospital and one at the Charlotte Maxeke Academic Hospital in Johannesburg.

Sidu said another died at the Pholosong Hospital yesterday morning. - Additional reporting by Sapa