Praise for firefighters, blame for municipality

Elsabe Jacobs.

She said the desperate attempt by one trained fireman, Jan Jansen van Vuuren, to save the house was in vain.

“What went wrong? The municipal service centre could not make calls to the standby fire rescue team. Hi-Tech Security gave the info to Van Vuuren. The call centre is not functional, reason being that the phone account was not paid,” said Jacobs.

She said the fire engine arrived 30 minutes after the first call was made.

“Community members and the owner of the house, Mohseen Mohamed, jumped in and assisted Van Vuuren. And just when it looked as if they would win the fight, the community had to stand in horror and watch how the fire engine went up in smoke,” added Jacobs.

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She said she felt like crying when she saw the frustration on the fireman’s face.

“In a final attempt he called for backup, and the bakkie arrived 10 minutes later with another fireman. This time around they struggled with the water hydrant which clearly had not been serviced for years; the water was blocked and water pressure was not what it was supposed to be,” Jacobs related.

“How long before our community will get the service from the municipality that it deserves? A fire engine has been in the municipality’s integrated-development plan since 2006. And we were promised that after this amalgamation (Umjindi and Mbombela municipalities) we would get a brand-new fire engine. We are still waiting with empty promises and even worse, the traffic officers in this service centre decreased as well as the rescue team. My heart goes out to this family. They definitely need trauma counselling after this disaster,” Jacobs added.

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“Thank the Lord the family was not injured. I pray that they will make peace with their situation and that they be blessed with more than what they need.

“To Van Vuuren, who gave his best, we saw how hard you worked to try and save this house for the family. You are a hero in our eyes. To all the community members, who assisted, we appreciate your help.

“Action is needed to address this issue with the municipality. Empty promises are not good enough anymore,” she concluded.

Richard Nkosi

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