Dunoon fire kills 22-year-old man

Unathi Zonke, 22, died in a fire that swept through Dunoon on Sunday September 11, at about 4pm, destroying at least 30 shacks and leaving more than 100 people homeless.

Mr Zonke is presumed to have been asleep when the fire consumed his home, trapping him inside. His mother, Veliswa Zonke, told the Cape Argus she had run to her son’s shack in the path of the inferno.

“We tried to open his door and it was locked. I heard people saying my son was on the other side trying to stop the fire, but we kept on banging on his door because I was panicking,” she said.

She described Mr Zonke as a good person who had respected everyone in the community and never wronged anyone. She told the Cape Argus that she had been traumatised after seeing her son’s burnt body.

Community Leader Meisie Makuwa-Mtukame is helping Ms Zonke, whom she said was in a “critical condition” trying to deal with her son’s death. A neighbour who had been cooking when the fire started and had been accused of causing it had not returned home.

“We can’t get hold of the neighbour. His parents are taking it very hard and a friend of his is going crazy. He doesn’t want to eat or talk to anyone,” said Ms Makuwa-Mtukame.

City Fire and Rescue Service spokeswoman Liezl Moodie said a short circuit in electrical wiring had caused the fire, leaving 120 people homeless.

Ward 104 councilor Lubabalo Makeleni said the fire had devastated the community. He had tried to introduce various measures to prevent fires in the community.

“A couple of years back I asked to have fire hydrants built in Dunoon and to have volunteers trained in fire fighting in the informal settlement, because by the time fire fighters get to the shacks, many shacks have burnt down already,” he said.

Mr Makeleni said “technicalities” had stopped the City installing the hydrants and while some community firefighters had been trained, it had not helped much.