Calls for aid have been made to help the victims of two Cape Flats fires, one of which claimed the lives of a baby and man in Lotus River and left more than 20 people destitute.
Police have opened an inquest into the deaths of seven-month-old Zulaika Mustaf and 31-year-old James Jaffiri Laisen, who died in a house fire in 4th Avenue, Lotus River, in the early hours of Monday December 12.
Four adults were injured in the blaze and 26, all of them Malawian nationals, were left destitute .
Eyewitnesses said the fire started in the garage, but police and fire and rescue services said they were still investigating and could not confirm that.
Sakina Richard, 34, was woken by her 18-month-old son for feeding, when she realised something was wrong. It was about 3.30am.
“I looked out of the window and saw the flames at the side of the garage. I then woke my sister and everyone else up to let them know about the fire so they could try to stop it but by the time we tried to help, the flames were already out of control. I grabbed my child and ran out because there was nothing anyone could do,” said Ms Richard.
Her sister, Fyness Ryson, 28, who lived in the house with her husband said they had lost everything.
“We were all sleeping when the fire broke out so no one knows what happened. We just knew we had to get out of the house as soon as possible, and all of us only have the clothes we currently have on,” she said.
“It is so sad that the baby had to die and that James lost his life in this way,” said Ms Ryson.
Ennexio Gudulu, 42, lived in the house with his wife and two children. “I am a mechanic, and many of the men who lived in the house do jobs like mine. We have lost everything, including our tools to make a living and provide for our families,” he said.
“I ask anyone who is able to assist us with food, clothes, tools, a place to stay or anything to please extend a hand.”
Fire and rescue services spokeswoman Liezl Moodie said the cause of the fire was still unknown.
At the time of going to print, the families were sheltering at Pelican Park High School.
Ward 65 councillor Patricia van der Ross said the City was doing all it could to help them.
“Our hands are tied, because the families rented out a privately owned house, but we have stepped in as much as we can by collecting donations and giving blankets, mattresses and other goods,” she said.
In another incident, ten people, including three children and a 90-year-old woman, were left homeless when a fire gutted their Military Road home in Seawinds .
Bridget Wilkinson was getting ready for work at about 7.35am on Wednesday December 7 when her daughter came running to her to tell her there was a fire in one of the bedrooms. Soon afterwards Ms Wilkinson saw smoke billowing from the room and then flames engulfed the house and the adjacent wendy house.
“It felt like in a split second and the house was totally in flames and it was out of control and the smoke had made it impossible to be inside the house,” she said.
She suspects an electrical fault caused the fire. “There was a computer in the back room where my grandchildren watched cartoons on and we believe that there was an electrical fault which may have caused the fire.”
Her son, Laeeq du Plessis, was at work when he got the call that his home was on fire.
He had spent the past three years building the wendy house and buying appliances for it so that he and wife and three children could move in.
“We were going to move in next week and we were very excited to do so, but now we’ve lost everything, from new appliances to school stationery, clothes and money we saved up,” he said. “We have to start all over from scratch but I am very thankful that no one was injured.”
To donate to the victims of the Lotus River fire, call ward councillor Patricia van der Ross at 081 588 9520.
To donate to the Seawinds family call ward councillor Gerry Gordon at 082 825 0511, Gavin at 083 990 8784 or Millie at 073 415 9355.