Just after 2pm on Tuesday 23 July, Margaret Davies watched her home go up in flames in Hooggenoeg, Makhanda (Grahamstown). Davies had lived in the two bedroom shack on 6th Avenue for 25 years with her husband, son and nephew. Despite a quick response from the Fire Department, nothing was able to be saved of the family’s belongings.
The Fire Department and Police attended to the scene. SAPS Spokesperson Mali Govender said that no case of arson was opened. Grocott’s has inquired about the cause of the fire but did not receive a response.
“There’s nothing we can save”, said Davies. A stray dog picked through the burnt remains of a stove behind her as she spoke, nothing was salvageable, even for the dog. Davies is unemployed and relies on a child support grant each month to care for her family. Her son was at school at the time of the fire, and came back to find his home destroyed. Davies said they had his textbooks and backpack, but lost school clothes and other stationary supplies to the flames.
Luckily no one was in the home when it caught alight, Davies was visiting neighbours next door when she was alerted to the smoke pouring out from the shack. “I couldn’t go in and get anything, the fire was too much”, she said.
Davies said they would stay with family in a small RDP house just in front of the burnt shack until they could re-build, with Davies’ family that makes seven people sharing one bedroom. “We need [zinc]sheets to re-build, food, clothes, anything that could help”, she emphasised, “we lost furniture, the fridge, kids’ clothes”.
Ward Counsellor Cary Clark visited the family the following morning with a few donations.
“This is an extremely poor family who live hand to mouth and have lost everything.”, said Clark. “I would really like to commend the Fire Department for ensuring that no other buildings were destroyed or that anyone was hurt. Taking into account that they had to fight another big fire on the other side of town in gale force winds, this was a miracle.”
Clark is looking for donations of clothes, food, beds, bedding, crockery, and zinc sheets; and can be contacted at 074 618 8747.