Riemvasmaak razed

Natalie Nimmerhout with two of her children, Zaylin and Michayla.

Residents of Riemvasmaak informal settlement are counting their losses after 45 structures caught alight, leaving 124 people displaced, on Friday January 24.

According to the City’s Fire and Rescue Services spokesperson, Jermaine Carelse, no injuries were reported. “The blaze destroyed 45 structures and 124 people have been affected,” he said.

Ward 67 councillor Gerry Gordon told Southern Mail after she had been on the scene that they were putting plans in place to assist those affected. “We still need to activate a report, contact the Department of Social Development and to make sure people get three  meals a day.”

Riemvasmaak is situated next to Phumlani Village. Community leader Sidwell Kweba, chairperson of Phumlani/Riemvasmaak informal settlements committee, said residents’ focus had been on saving their children, and that many of them had had their personal belongings destroyed in the fire.

Grassy Park police spokesperson, Captain Wynita Kleinsmith, said “no foul play had been suspected” and that they suspected the fire may have been caused by a lit candle which fell over.

“No fatalities were reported when the fire brigade came on the scene,” she said.

Mr Kweba added that two dogs and one cat had died in the fire.

Southern Mail visited the affected families who were busy rebuilding their homes the next day.

Natalie Nimmerhout, mother of six children aged 21, 16, 14, 9, 7 and 4, who had been living at Riemvasmaak for 11 years, said she had been awakened by someone shouting there was a fire.

“I jumped out of bed (and) took my kids outside. I had no idea what was happening but we all stuck together to help put the fire out.”