The recent spate of shack fires have left the community of Orange Farm in distress.
Different shack fire incidents have claimed 10 lives in Orange Farm recently. Two people died inside their RDP house at Lakeside while three others were gutted by flames inside a shack at Extension 9. According to authorities both incidents were as a result of electrical faults.
As if that was not enough, the community suffered another blow when they witnessed the deaths of five children who burned to death when their shack caught fire at Extension 6b.
Lillian (17yrs), Busisiwe(10), Tshepo (8), Nkululeko (7) and four-year old Mduduzi Magagula were trapped inside the raging flames that claimed their lives. The three-roomed shack in the backyard of Simon Mapoone the grandfather of the children caught fire around 11pm on Saturday 8th August, just five days after the two other incidents.
According to Mr Mapoone, there were seven children inside the shack and only two managed to escape the fire with minor injuries and called for help. “I was asleep when I heard the children screaming and I thought maybe they spotted a criminal in the yard but I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw the shack on fire,” said Mapoone with tears streaming down his face.
Nthabiseng Catherine Magagula (27) the mother of four year old Mduduzi who died trying to hide under a table said she is so devastated and shocked by the death of four children and the death of her only child. “I was expecting a lot from them when they grow up and was looking forward to see Mduduzi turn 5 years old but now it’s all in vain,” she said crying uncontrollably.
The family suspects arson to be the cause of the fire. “Inside the shack there was no heater, stove or even a single candle. So, it’s obvious that the shack was set alight because the fire started from the back of the shack” added Nthabiseng. Johannesburg Emergency Services spokesperson Robert Mulaudzi said at the time that they suspect an electrical fault to have started the fire. The investigation, according to Mulaudzi has confirmed their suspicion that it was an electrical fault that caused the fire. Ward Councillor, Penny Mphule says the municipality is in the process of rolling out a programme in partnership with the emergency services to educate people about fire prevention. “This is a sad time for Orange farm and the country as a whole and not a time to point fingers but we need to prevent more deaths by educating our people on how to avoid such tragedies” she stated.