Residents living in a condemned building in Luipaardsvlei have nowhere to go after a building fire this morning.
The building on the corner of Albertina Sisulu Road and Krone Street caught fire at about 4am this morning.
According to Lwuandile Mntungwane, one of the building’s residents, he had just woken up and was getting ready for work when he smelled smoke. He said he went outside and realised the building was burning, so he ran and knocked on all his neighbours’ doors to wake them.
Residents said they were woken by people screaming, “It’s on fire” and running out of the building. They told the News they made a makeshift lift out of blankets to lower people down from a first-floor window to the ground. Others ran in and out of their rooms to try and save their belongings.
One of the residents, Petros Mokoene, said he believes it was drug dealers who tried to burn down the building because the residents don’t want them there and they have even phoned the police to get rid of them.
“The law is failing us,” he said.
But the picture is even bleaker than it looks. According to Edwina Mahne, DA PR Ward Councillor, the building was condemned some time ago and the file for the building has been handed over to the Mogale City Local Municipality.
“About two months ago, all residents were removed from the building and any occupation of the building is illegal,” she continued.
According to Mahne all services to the building have been shut down and there is no water, no electricity and no sanitation.
Sources revealed the building was an alleged breeding ground for drugs and prostitution, and rooms had even been divided into four to create space for more people to live there.
Firefighters fought for almost three hours to extinguish the blaze that started on the second floor. It is not clear how the fire started yet, but an investigation will follow.
Witnesses at the scene said that they hope the building will be demolished now.
For Elsie Mokhutswane however, it is a sad day. Elsie could save most of her belongings but said she now has to leave her things at her cousin’s place while she tries to figure out where she will go next.
Fortunately no-one was hurt in the fire.
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