Category Archives: Solly Maphumulo

The Star: Angry protesters barricade highway

September 16 2008 at 09:52AM

Orange Farm residents have taken their demands for proper sanitation, water and housing to the streets.

Hundreds of residents barricaded the Golden Highway with burning tyres and rocks on Monday, making it difficult for motorists to pass through.

Community leader Bricks Makolo said the residents were supposed to have a meeting with the ward councillor, Meisie Msimango, on Sunday to discuss their grievances.

He claimed the residents waited until 11am and she did not come. “The residents got angry and decided to take action.

They will only speak to us when we protest. That’s how they want to work. We want basic services that are stated in the constitution. We want development.”

For several hours, police and metro police officers busied themselves removing the rocks that were placed by the residents. The protesting residents dispersed when police fired rubber bullets.

Meanwhile, Johannesburg municipal communications Manager Gabu Tugwana said Msimango did not make arrangements to meet the residents on Sunday.

He said issues raised by the community were being attended to. “We are calling for calm and patience among the community.”

Tugwana said 23 people had been arrested for public violence.

o This article was originally published on page 3 of The Star on September 16, 2008

The Star: Children die in shack fire tragedy

Shack Fires Are No Accident! Electricity for all Now!

Children die in shack fire tragedy

Solly Maphumulo

Virginia Hlomendlini had left her grandchildren in the care of a neighbour to go and comfort another bereaved neighbour.

Minutes later, Thembeni and Ntsikelelo were dead, trapped in a shack fire believed to have been started by a paraffin stove.

Hlomendlini had just returned from church in Fairview, eastern Jo’burg, and asked Nelisiwe Mbatha to look after her grandchildren while she went to offer her condolences to a neighbour who had lost her daughter.

While there, Hlomendlini said, “one of my neighbours said he smelt smoke. He went outside, came back and told me there were paramedics at my house.”

Panicking and confused, she ran to the shack to check if her grandchildren were okay. “The paramedics did not allow me to go anywhere near the shack. I was anxious, I wanted to know if they were safe.”

When the firefighters finally put out the flames, Hlomendlini learnt that her grandchildren had perished in the fire.

“I heard the paramedics saying there were two bodies in the shack; then I knew they had been trapped inside. I only left them for a few minutes,” she said with regret.

The toddlers’ 21-year-old mother, Zodwa, had also gone to church in Hillbrow. She was late for church and decided to return home.

On her way back she met a neighbour. “She asked if I knew what had happened. I hurried home, but I did not know she was talking about my children. I thought they were safe because my mother had taken them to church with her,” a distraught Zodwa said.

“When I got home there were paramedics everywhere. I stood outside and my relatives told me that my children were dead,” she said.

Mbatha and her 10-year-old son sustained serious burn injuries and were rushed to Chris Hani-Baragwanath hospital.

o This article was originally published on page 2 of The Star on March 31, 2008