Granny dies in blaze

Fire damaged this Manenberg house.

A Manenberg family are destitute after a fire swept through their home and claimed the life of 77-year-old grandmother Valery Mitchell.

The family suspect an electrical fault caused the fire, which started in one of three shacks in the yard on Tuesday July 3 and spread quickly to the main house.

It damaged the bedrooms, the kitchen and bathroom and left 14 people from the same family homeless.

Vanesia Johnson, 32, woke just after midnight on Tuesday to find the room burning. She rushed to get the elderly members of the family outside.

“When we went back to get the other granny, it was too late,” she said.

“The paramedics said she didn’t burn to death but she suffered smoke inhalation.”

Ms Mitchell leaves behind four children, 45 grandchildren and 30 great grandchildren.

Her daughter, Benicia Mitchell, said her mother had been a community person, loved by all and it was a very sad time for the family.

The City of Cape Town delivered a shipping container to the house the next day to shelter the fire victims, but they have taken refuge at relatives’ homes.

Ms Johnson said the City had told her it would take six months to repair the council house.

The family say they have lost everything and have appealed to the community for help.

The City’s Disaster Risk Management spokeswoman, Charlotte Powell, said the City had asked the South African Social Security Agency to send humanitarian relief and fire
kits.

Fire and Rescue spokesman Theo Layne said the cause of the fire was unknown at this stage.

Last month, Mogamat Hossain Stemmet, and his son, Edward Rajap, lost their bicycle-repair shop to a fire their at Assegaai Avenue property in Bonteheuwel (“Call for residents to help Stemmet family,” Athlone News, June 27).

All his equipment, including his tools, was damaged and all the bicycle tyres were burnt leaving only the rims behind.

In May this year staff from a tobacco company and residents working for non-profit Khusela Ikhaya Project, painted 75 Bonteheuwel shacks with fire-retardant (“Painting to protect shacks,” Athlone News, June 6).