Last weekend started off on a bad footing for a family of three when their shack at the Acorn Valley Informal Settlement was destroyed by fire early on Saturday morning.
Elgin Steenkamp, his wife Debra and son, lost all their belongings, food and important documents in the fire.
“I have lost everything as you can see by yourself and I have nowhere to go,” a devastated Steenkamp said.
Thankfully, he and his wife were not at home during the tragedy.
“I think as a family we have been cursed. This incident was the second time of its kind within a couple of months.”
The couple, who have been married for 22 years, was staying in a parked caravan in Plateau Extension before moving to Acorn Valley when, according to them, their home was also destroyed by fire a few months ago.
Steenkamp said he and his wife left their two-roomed shack to finish up a job they had in nearby Extension 5 in Breidbach.
“We started the day with a cup of coffee, switched off the primus stove and left our 16-year-old boy at home before leaving,” Elgin said.
“While at work replacing old carpets at the home in Extension 5 my phone rang, with someone informing me about the disaster at my home.
“My son came running to us with tears streaming down his face, and on our return home, we found officials of Buffalo City Metropolitan Fire Department busy extinguishing the fire.
“But it was already too late to save some of our items,” he added.
Debra said: “I am now staying with family members in Breidbach while my husband and son are loitering in Acorn Valley. It hurts to have to beg.”
“These clothes you see us wearing today are the only ones we have.”
Her neighbour, Nomsa Phutuza, said she had heard the sound of some kind of explosion coming from the house immediately after the son had left.
“I heard a big bang and within minutes the house was in flames which quickly moved towards my shack,” Phutuza said.
“It was only thanks to the assistance of the community and fire officials that my shack is still standing.”
Mandlakhaya Sidima, a community leader, was working in his garden when he saw the shack on fire.
“I left everything, raised the alarm and rushed with buckets of water to the burning shack but our attempts didn’t help at all,” said Sidima.
Area ward committee member Tully Winnaar said she immediately reported the incident to councillor Sixolisiwe Ntsasela and contacted the fire department who responded within a few minutes.
“The councillor has asked me to tell the family to report to her office on Monday which I did,” said Winnaar.
Anyone wishing to offer any kind of assistance can contact Debra on 063-188-7359.