Gazine fire victim recalls helplessness of watching pregnant friend die in blaze

Nine people died and 24 others were injured, while some broke their legs jumping from the burning building near the Kwa Mai Mai market in the Johannesburg CBD.

A fire in a building near the Kwa Mai Mai market in the Joburg CBD killed at least nine people while 11 others were injured. Picture: @GeoffMakhubo/Twitter

JOHANNESBURG – Residents of the Gazine informal settlement near the Kwa Mai Mai market in the Johannesburg CBD have spoken of their horror after nine people were burnt to death on Wednesday evening.

Twenty-four people were injured, while others broke their legs jumping from a building.

Hundreds were displaced after the fire and the cause of the blaze was not yet known.

READ: Joburg Mayor Makhubo promises assistance for victims of deadly Gazine fire

Resident Mbali Dhlomo explained how her friend, who was pregnant, died in the fire.

“When I was walking to go to the other house, the fire was starting to burn. Then I came back running trying to come in and help them, but the fire was raging. She was screaming and crying till she died, and I was standing here helpless, people were holding me back so I could not run in. She was four months pregnant when she died, along with her boyfriend.”

Another resident, Phakamani Sibiya, explained what had happened to his brothers.

“I climbed down the stairs to stand on the other side of the building when I was standing there, I saw my house burning. I saw my brothers running out of the building with the violent fire, the first one fell from the 3rd floor to the 2nd floor. The same happened to my two other brothers, and as we speak, they are in hospital.”

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