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Man loses all in shack fire

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Residents across Kimberley remain in the grip of a severe cold front and continue suffering under freezing conditions.

DANGER: Benjamin Semanego lost all his possessions after a candle he left burning in his shack fell over. Picture: Soraya Crowie

A KIMBERLEY man has lost all his possessions after a fire broke out in his shack yesterday, while he was sitting only metres away “soaking up some sun” in an attempt to escape the icy conditions in his dwelling.

Benjamin Semanego, 46, who resides in a small shack behind a house in Stamper Street, Galeshewe, lost all his belongings in the fire that broke out in the shack between 1pm and 2pm yesterday.

Semanego said he was unaware that a fire had broken out only metres from where he was sitting on the stoep of the house to soak up some sun as no sunlight reaches the shack.

“There was a lit candle in the shack, which I placed in such a way that it wouldn’t fall over. I was sitting on the stoep in the sun, as my shack is extremely cold without any windows,” Semanego said.

His mother, Emily Semanego, who is the owner of the house, said she returned from town at around lunchtime and found her son sitting on the stoep.

“I went inside the house and then heard one of my neighbours screaming that the shack was on fire,” Emily said.

The fire department was called and arrived on the scene and managed to extinguish the blaze.

A livid Emily scolded her son for being “negligent” and even chased him away from her home.

She said that she had spent a lot of money on upgrades at the house and that the fire caused a lot of damage “that could have been prevented”.

Meanwhile, residents across Kimberley remain in the grip of a severe cold front and continue suffering under freezing conditions.

Residents in the informal settlement of Thutlo, Galeshewe, were yesterday seen collecting firewood in anticipation of another night where temperatures are expected to drop to below freezing point.

“Without electricity, we have become desperate for some heat and fear for the safety of especially the elderly and young children. We are forced to make fire inside our shacks in an attempt to gather some heat, and while this is a safety hazard, we have no other choice.

“If we do not do that, we might die of the cold,” residents said.

Others added that “not all the blankets in the world” could keep the cold out of the shacks, and that they simply did not know how they would get through the night without freezing to death.