Masi loses everything

Neziswa Maciko works for Living Hope and lost her home to the fire too.

For Nosiswe Mateko the fire that razed 256 shacks in Masiphumelele on Monday was personal.

Ms Mateko has worked at Living Hope for 12 years and her life is dedicated to helping others.

But in the early hours of Monday morning, the fire that swept through Section E took with it her own home.

After the fire, the community is now beset with drenching Cape winter rains.

For the first time, Ms Mateko is on the receiving end of the help Living Hope gives.

Even in her own need now, she does her best to help others, she says. But Ms Mateko is also a victim of the fire, which has left herself, her husband and her three children, aged 19, 7 and 4, without a home.

Her youngest child is disabled, as is her brother’s child, who also lives with the family.

“I heard the fire coming. I only had time to take my children out. And ID books. We always know where those are, just in case,” she said.

One man lost his life in the blaze, and Living Hope’s Reverend John Thomas said 1 000 people had lost everything they owned.

The City’s Disaster Risk Management Centre said 802 people had put their names on its register for help by Tuesday morning.

The centre has informed the South African Social Security Agency so it can provide humanitarian relief.

Mr Thomas said the City had asked for help to feed the people at 8pm on Monday night.

With most shops closed at that time, the organisation had bought out all the bread and tinned food it could from garage shops in the area and it had managed to feed everyone.

Aphiwe Makhendlana is head of Living Hope’s donation co-ordination. They are open day and night, and he has a team of four to five people working from 8am to 4pm daily, sorting.

“If people who are donating could sort and label the bags of their donations that would help us deliver it far faster to the fire victims: women’s/men’s/children’s clothes or blankets,” he said.

On Monday they delivered four bakkie loads of donations to the fire-ravaged township.

Chantal DelCarme is the point person for donations and information. She said blankets are the most crucial need and jackets for children and adults.

“Food is always necessary, from a hot pot of soup to any other perishables.” Food is collected by trusted community leaders who take it to their community.

Ms DelCarme said many of the fire victims were in the Methodist Church hall as it was closest to the site.

Karen Peiser, marketing manager for Living Hope, praised the surrounding communities’ generosity, and asked that donations be made to Living Hope in Kommetjie Road, Capri. “While we are so grateful for what has come in, it’s a needle in the haystack to the need out there, “she said.

Three firemen sustained injuries due to electrical shock at the Masi fire. They were taken for medical treatment and later released.