Daily Dispatch

Granny loses in fire go-slow


A dispute between firefighte­rs and Ngqushwa municipali­ty has been blamed for a 71-yearold grandmothe­r losing everything in a fire this week.

Asathaba Payi managed to rescue her grandmothe­r, Shumikazi Payi, from the fire that destroyed their home in Chisirha village on Monday.

The pensioner was rushed to the nearest clinic to be treated for smoke inhalation.

The family said their home could have been saved had firefighte­rs not been at loggerhead­s with the municipali­ty over disinfecti­on of the fire station.

It is understood seven firefighte­rs recently tested positive for Covid-19.

The family said the firefighte­rs were on a slow-go to protest how the municipali­ty had handled the pandemic.

Payi said while some neighbours called the fire department, others tried to douse the flames with buckets of water.

Community activist Mandilakhe Makhabane said firefighte­rs were called repeatedly.

“They kept saying they were on their way but then it became evident that they would not be coming.

“Then they told us they were protesting against their employer. If the firefighte­rs had come some of the family’s belongings would have been saved,” Makhabane said.

Payi said she “quickly grabbed” her grandmothe­r from one of the home’s three rooms when she saw the fire was out of control.

“It is disappoint­ing that the firefighte­rs could not come,” she said.

The family lost everything in the fire.

Athini Ngxumza, of the Mtapo Centre, a service advocacy body in Ngqushwa, said neighbours were collecting money to assist the family.

Ngxumza said she understood the firefighte­rs’ grievances because their lives were always at risk.

“They are using an old truck. The pipes are torn from a fire they put out last month. It is just disappoint­ing that they could not come,” Ngxumza said.

Amathole district municipali­ty (ADM) spokespers­on Noni Vuso said four firefighte­rs who tested positive for Covid-19 on July 11 were self-isolating.

“The fire station commander is manning the station while firefighte­rs are due back after the disinfecti­on process,” Noni said.

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