Neighbours who tried to assist say they were unable to extinguish the blaze as the water supply had been switched off for the night and the emergency personnel at the fire brigade station allegedly “fast asleep”.
A MOTHER and her seven-year-old son died in a shanty fire in Pelindaba, Motswedimosa, in Ritchie during the early hours of Friday morning.
Saul Fluks and his four-year-old daughter – “Vroutjie” Fluks are receiving medical treatment for smoke inhalation and severe burn wounds.
Neighbours rushed to assist after hearing screams at around 12.50am but indicated that they were unable to extinguish the raging fire, as the water supply had been switched off last night.
Community member Klaas Sekgabo added that he ran to the fire brigade that was situated a few metres away from the informal settlement, only to find emergency personnel “fast asleep”.
“The fire brigade only arrived on the scene about 30 minutes later. By that time it was too late, as Hannalie van Wyk and her son Alexandra Fluks had already died. Neighbours tried to put out the fire with buckets and drums of water that they had stored in their shacks, but the flames were too ferocious. The water is not usually cut and we had to find someone at the Ritchie Waterworks plant to restore the water supply so that we could extinguish the fire.”
He added that the fire had destroyed everything.
“We are worried about Saul and Vroutjie as they are in a critical condition. If they survive and are discharged they will have nowhere to recover because there is nothing left of their home. It is unfortunate that they recently bought a brand new set of furniture that was also gutted by the fire. The community is tired of the poor standard of service delivery, it is unacceptable. The informal settlement has not had access to electricity for the past nine years.”
A neighbour Hennie Leeuw, broke into the shanty in order to rescue Vroutjie.
“The entire shanty was filled with smoke and flames and I knew that I had to get in there to help. I managed to get her out in time and I held her until the ambulance arrived from Kimberley. She suffered severe burn injuries including burn wounds on her face. She was admitted into the intensive care unit at Robert Sobukwe Mangaliso Hospital. Her father is also receiving treatment at the hospital.”
ANC ward 26 chairperson Kenneth Matlhaku added that the party would ensure that the young family would be given a dignified burial.
Police provincial spokesperson Lieutenant-Colonel Dimakatso Sello said the police in Modderrivier had opened an inquest docket, following the shack fire that claimed the lives of a seven-year-old boy and his 26-year-old mother.
“The incident occurred today in the early hours of the morning. The cause of the fire is unknown at this stage as investigation continues.”
She confirmed that the father and four-year-old child were currently in hospital.
Sol Plaatje municipality did not respond to media enquiries.