Fire victims appeal for building materials

Cathkin Village informal settlement community leader Vanessa Adriaanse at the scene of a fire that left five families homeless.

Five families, left homeless by a fire in a Heideveld informal settlement, are asking for help to rebuild their homes and their lives.

The fire gutted seven wendy houses in Cathkin Village, in the early hours of Thursday January 6, leaving 22 people homeless, according to community leader Vanessa Adriaanse.

Since then the eight-member Du Plessis family have been staying in a shipping container previously used as the office by the Moms Move for Justice organisation.

Helena du Plessis, 69, who now sleeps on the floor of the container, said she had woken at 3am, and, hearing a loud bang, had opened her door to be confronted by flames.

“I woke up my family. I was more concerned about our lives than our material possessions. I carried my grandchildren outside. Other than that, there was nothing we could do, as there is no water on the camp. All my belongings went up in flames.”

The living conditions in the container made it hard for her and her husband, Allistair, 68, to care for their two mentally and physically disabled children, she said.

The couple’s other daughter, Chantal Lester, 46, lived next door to her parents. She and her family also lost everything.

“All I could save was my gas tank,” she said. “I didn’t want it to explode. My 15-year-old son doesn’t even have a school uniform now.”

Ismail Yon, 32, his wife, Maroeska Parker, 29, and their 3-year-old daughter, Iqrah Yon, are staying in another family’s wendy house.

“Everything happened so fast. I had to get my prosthetic leg on before rushing out, so I could not save anything,” said Ms Parker, who is eight months pregnant.

The families have thanked those who have given food, clothing and toiletries, and they have appealed for building materials.

The City’s Fire and Rescue spokesman, Jermaine Carelse, said the cause of the fire was unknown.

Ms Adriaanse said the person whose wendy house had caught alight first had not been seen since the fire.

If you can help with any building material, contact Ms Adriaanse at 063 232 2202.

From left are, Kaylin du Plessis, 27; Chantal Lester, 46; Helena du Plessis, 69, with little Xavier du Plessis, 4; Allistair du Plessis, 68, and Marlon du Plessis, 40. The family lives temporarily in a container, which is the office of the organisation, Moms Move for Justice.
Ismail Yon, 32, Iqrah Yon, 3, and Maroeska Parker, 29, lost all their possessions in the fire.