Death of three in Free State fire still a shock

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Photo used for illustration purposes.

Political parties in the Free State have sent their condolences to the two families who lost their loved ones in a fire at Malebogo, Hertzogville.

It was a normal Saturday night for the Mokoena and Gaebee families when the six members went to sleep in their shack in Staanplek, an informal settlement established in 2021. In the middle of the night, the families woke up from the flames. The devastating fire claimed the lives of a two-year-old, three-year-old, and a 36-year-old woman. Two adults and a child managed to escape with minor injuries.

DA councillor Hismajesty Maqhubu extended his condolences to the family and confirmed that the deceased was buried over the weekend. The mayor paid for the funeral. Maqhubu said the party was organising clothing and furniture for the survivors, who have lost everything in the fire.

Staanplek was established in Malebogo by the ANC just before the 2021 local government elections, yet residents still don’t have basic services today. Maqhubu said firefighting services for the settlement were delegated to the Lejweleputswa District Municipality in Welkom, more than 140 km away.

The EFF also offered condolences to the families and confirmed that the child who managed to escape the fire is still in the hospital. Regional chairperson Ratholoana Monyane said it’s concerning that the informal settlement still doesn’t have water, electricity, and toilets. “These conditions are inhumane. Residents have been asking the municipality to provide infrastructure and dignified residential sites.”

In 2020, a mother and her two children died in their shack after it caught fire. Police spokesperson Motantsi Makhele told OFM News at the time that the family’s neighbours alerted emergency services after hearing screams and seeing flames, but it was too late to save the lives of the 20-year-old mother and her one- and four-year-old children.

OFM News/ Tshehla Koteli