Ntombizethu Ngcobo
2 minute read
8 Jul 2022

Power surge sets Pietermaritzburg home on fire

Ntombizethu Ngcobo

Elandskop woman's recently-renovated seven-room fully-furnished house burnt to the ground on Wednesday afternoon

The house after being ravaged by the blaze

“I usually see such incidents, but never did I think that I would become a victim of a house fire.”

These were the words of devastated homeowner Phumelele Kheswa, from Nkabini area in Elandskop, whose recently-renovated seven-room fully-furnished house burnt to the ground on Wednesday afternoon.

Kheswa said when the electricity came back on afer loadshedding, the power surge hit the electric meter box, which was on wall in the passage, and the whole house went up in flames. She was not at home when the incident occurred. Only her son (19) was inside the house and the grandmother in an outside building.

“We received calls from the neighbours telling us to rush home. As much as they didn’t tell us what is going on, we could feel that something was wrong. I couldn’t hold myself together after seeing the state of our house, which we had just finished painting and revamping …” said Kheswa.

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She added that her son managed to escape through his bedroom window, but burnt the soles of his feet in the process.

“We didn’t sleep at all last night. My son kept on having nightmares. This incident has left us traumatised and we don’t even know where to start picking up the pieces,” she said.

“The worst part is that the breadwinner no longer works now. We now rely on granny’s pension money to survive. We appeal to the community to assist us with any kind of donations as we also don’t have food. We are also appealing for clothes and blankets as it is so cold here,” she said, adding they are a family of eight, including three children aged three, five and six.

We are still in disbelief that our house burnt to the ground. We are grateful to the community who had to go to the river, a few metres away from the house, to fetch water since we had no running water in our tap. They did all in their power to douse the fire, but the flames were uncontrollable. The fire department did come, but it was too late. We couldn’t save anything inside the house …

Ward councillor Bukelani Zuma said they were shocked after receiving the news.

“… The disaster management team came to provide first hand assistance to the family, but it is not enough since this is a big family. We have approached other organisations with the aim of asking them to lend a helping hand to this family in need.”

Eskom’s industry support and stakeholder manager Joyce Zingoni said for any such incidents relating to power surges, Eskom will need to determine the facts surrounding the incident before responding to the allegations.