A community in mourning



June 14, 2016
A community in mourning

SOLEMN: A memorial service held at Imperial Primary. CREDIT: Patrick Louw

Eastridge holds a memorial for eight who died in blaze.

There were tears and heartache at a memorial held for the eight family members who perished in a fire at their home in Mitchells Plain on Saturday.

Close to a thousand community members and family were at Imperial Primary School in Eastridge yesterday to remember the victims of the devastating tragedy.

Dad Patrick Abrahams, 54, lost his three youngest children Nikita, three, Joshua, 13, and Kyle, 18.

His three grandchildren Tamia Swartz, two, Cameron Fredericks, six, Elmarie Fredericks, five, also died. They are the children of his daughter Gloria Abrahams, 31.

Gloria’s boyfriend and Tamia’s dad, Alfonso Swartz, 35, also passed away, as well as their nephew Arafaat Madatt, 14.

Gloria, who is five-months pregnant, was discharged from hospital and only learnt the news about her children and boyfriend’s death yesterday.

Her mother Verona Abrahams, 52, family friends Nawaal Erasmus, 23, and Lance Minnies, 16, are still recovering in hospital.

Her sister Shanice, 22, was discharged on Sunday.

The family woke to flames just after 8am in their home in Macbeth Street, Eastridge.

Police and the City of Cape Town are still investigating the cause of the fire.

Arafaat’s mother Fatima Madatt and Elton Fredericks, the father of little Cameron and Elmarie, were also at the service.

Shanice, who has a scratch on her face and a burn on her leg, spoke to Daily Voice about her ordeal.

“When I opened the door of the room, the flames were coming at me,” she says.

“The smoke was so thick, I heard my sister’s daughter Nikita screaming: “Niekie, maak oop die deur.’

“I opened the door, but I couldn’t see her.

“I told my mother and Nawaal and Lance to get onto the bed. And I prayed, I said: ‘Here, help my’.”

They escaped through a window she broke with her bare hands.

Fatima, who had been sleeping in a Wendy house in the yard, said she could only watch as paramedics tried to save her son.

“When they brought him out he was already dead, I shouted: ‘Arafaat wake up, it’s mommy’,” she sobbed.

Lance, who is in Grade 11 at AZ Berman High School, is currently on life support at Victoria Hospital in Wynberg.

His mother Rita Minnies says: “My son has so much dreams. He says he wants to finish matric to buy us a house because we are seven people living in a room.”

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