Three struggling young women who hail from Eheke in the Oshana region and came to Windhoek to further their studies, suffered a triple blow when they lost both their breadwinner, home and all belongings in a shack fire.
Herman Panduleni Kakwiyu (26), died instantly after a fire broke out in a corrugated iron shack, which completely burned down. He burnt beyond recognition on Wednesday night in Windhoek’s Okahandja Park informal settlement.
According to his sister Helena Nghifikwa, a fire broke out at about 23h00 at their five-room family shack at Okahandja Park after her brother fell asleep with a candle on.
“My brother was the only one in the house with my other sister, while my cousin and I were out. I only received a call from my sister who was home, saying my brother is burning.
She heard him screaming for help, and when she woke up, the house was on fire. She thus tried to escape as the fire was spreading fast. By the time the fire brigade arrived, it was too late to save him. He burned beyond recognition,” she narrated tearfully.
Nghifikwa said although her brother was not fully employed, he was hustling to feed them.
“Our parents are not here. He was our guardian. We lost everything we had, and we are only left with what we were wearing,” she continued.
Amongst the valuable things which burned to ashes listed by the deceased’s younger sister are five beds, a stove, fridges, national documents as well as the books of Sigri Nehemia, who is a student at the Namibia University of Science and Technology (NUST) doing a Bachelor’s degree in English as well as Nghifikwa’s books.
She is improving her marks at Namcol.
In the process, the fire also spread to an adjacent shop that had stock valued at over N$200 000. According to the owner of the market, Jason Nghishifola, the market was fully packed.
“The business was here to help the community members save transport money to go to the shopping malls. Now, everything has burnt to ashes. I am in pain, and the community is also in pain. I lost everything, but most importantly, we need to mourn the person who lost his life,” he said.
Community coordinator Fillemon Kamati is requesting members of the public to help the family, especially the three unemployed women who are sleeping in the open.
“We need a tent to accommodate the ladies because it is too cold to be in the open. They lost everything, including their blankets. At least good Samaritans must assist with blankets and a tent so that they will be able to sleep while they are mourning their brother,” added Kamati.
When New Era arrived at the scene, the three women were still staring at the burned zinc house while sobbing uncontrolably. Meanwhile, the sister who was at home during the fire was later taken to hospital to be treated for shock.
Khomas police spokesperson Silas Shipandeni said “preliminary investigations established the cause of the fire to be a cigarette lighter, as the deceased was a smoker and was intoxicated when he went to sleep, according to neighbours.”