The Mohamed family inside their once spacious house. They are Mohseen, his wife Sarah Bibi, their children Saihaan, Dhiya and Ngha.

The Mohamed family, whose house was severely damaged by fire on Saturday evening, blame the City of Mbombela Local Municipality for their loss.

Mohseen Mohamed, the owner, said the fire engine took an hour to arrive at his house, and as if that was not enough, its engine failed to function.

He said he tried to call the emergency number, but his call did not go through.

Inside one of the rooms for the Mohamed family.

“Had the fire engine arrived on time and in good working condition, I could have salvaged some of my belongings. When it arrived here, it could not pump water to extinguish the fire. I’m very disappointed by the municipality’s reaction,” said Mohamed.

He said he does not know the cause of the fire.

The couches.

“My wife was in the kitchen baking. All of a sudden, I heard a loud bang of a window exploding in one of the children’s rooms. When I went to investigate, I found the room engulfed in flames. We could salvage nothing, as the fire and the smoke were too strong. I only managed to grab my two cellphones,” said Mohamed.

No one was injured.

Neighbours did try to come and extinguish the blaze while waiting for firefighters, but failed.

This is not the first time the council’s shortcomings have been exposed.

Recently the inferno that gutted a house at Extension 10 showed, for the umpteenth time, how incapacitated the fire department is.

The shortage of fire-fighting equipment has haunted the city for years.

Inside the kitchen.

Mohamed said the damage to his house, including the furniture and clothing, was nearly over R1 million.

He said he was now waiting for his insurance to determine the damage.

“I would like to thank the community of Barberton for their support and donations since the incident happened.

Their support has been overwhelming,” added Mohamed.

He said the incident has left him and his family devastated.

The Mohamed family standing outside their once spacious house.

“I will need trauma counselling. Since the incident happened, I can’t sleep. Every time I close my eyes, I see flames. The children are also gutted. Every time we get into the car, they say we must go home. They have nowhere else to call home,” said Mohamed.

Anyone willing to assist the family can contact Mohamed on 081-023-0880.

Richard Nkosi

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