Ten burn to death in Cape Town tragedy


TEN people including a Zimbabwean man, his wife and their two children died after thousands of shacks (imikhukhu) caught fire at an informal settlement in South Africa’s Cape Town City.

Vusumuzi Nsimba (48), originally of Entumbane suburb in Bulawayo died together with his family, whose names are still to be established, on Saturday night when their shack which is located along Pleasant Street in Wesbank, caught fire.

Fire-fighters battled the blaze for more than 12 hours and ran out of water.

Houtbay Fire

The informal settlement is said to be built on a slope without discernible pathways, impeding fire-fighters.

A South African police spokesperson Sergeant Noloyiso Rwexana said investigations into the cause of the fire are still in progress.

“I can confirm that cases of inquest were opened for investigation. There is a Zimbabwean family a man aged 48, woman 32- years-old and their two children aged five and three that died on March 11 when their shack caught fire,” said Ms Rwexana.

“We’re also investigating cases of six other people who died in the fire that occurred on 11 March 2017 at 00:45 — a 32 year old man, 28 year old female and a three-year-old child. There are also three unidentified victims who died after the fire broke out in the shacks, March 11 at 00:55 in Kosovo informal settlement,” she said.

The Chronicle yesterday visited Nsimba’s family in Bulawayo and his brother, Mr Godwill Nsimba, said he is still in shock about the tragedy. He said Vusumuzi left three minor children who reside in the rural areas in Zimbabwe.

The mother of the children, he said, followed him to South Africa and found him having started the new family that perished.

“I was really shocked when I received a phone call from South Africa. I last spoke to Vusa last year and I was thinking of calling him last week. Vusa was married to Nokuthula Ncube and he left for South Africa to look for a job,” said Mr Nsimba.

“We heard that he remarried but we don’t know his wife’s name or the children’s. What I know is that he left his three children here in Zimbabwe whom he sired with MaNcube.”

Mr Nsimba told The Chronicle that funeral arrangements are still in progress.

“For now we will send a family member to go to South Africa to make funeral arrangements. Maybe that is when we will know the names of his late wife and their children.

“It’s really sad, instead of receiving groceries now we have to look for money and go to South Africa to collect their bodies,” he said.

Community leaders have said the provincial government in the neighbouring country and the City of Cape Town failed to take necessary steps to avoid the disaster, which they said was the worst since 2004.