Husband and home lost to fires



October 4, 2016
Husband and home lost to fires

DEVASTATED: Rolene Baartman, 43 CREDIT: Patrick Louw/ Daily Voice

Woman says electric fires that killed her husband and destroyed her home could have been avoided.

A woman who lost her husband in a house fire two years ago has suffered a second tragedy after her house went up in flames again.

Rolene Baartman, 43, blames the fires on an electrical fault and says her hokkie could have been saved if the electrical department responded to her calls to fix the problem.

Yesterday, the mom went to Eskom offices in Bellville armed with reports she made since last Thursday about faulty power lines to her home in Blikkiesdorp, Delft.

She says on Sunday afternoon, after yet another desperate call to Eskom, her tiny home, which she shares with her five children including her disabled seven-year old son, burnt to the ground.

In November 2014, Rolene’s husband, Peter Smit, 38, burnt to death after their shack caught fire.

Rolene was at a neighbour’s house when the fire began after 4pm.

Yesterday, City of Cape Town officials gave her a new zinc hokkie.

“I cannot begin to tell you how I am feeling, I am devastated,” she says.

“I called Eskom since last Thursday about the power line being faulty but they never replied. On Sunday, I called them again when it began to spark but they only arrived after the fire was done. By that time my home had already burnt down.

“Yesterday, Eskom gave me a claims form. I have a disabled child and I have lost everything. What I need now is a home for my family.”

Neighbour Mushfeeqah Swartz, 15, witnessed the hokkie going up in flames: “There was no time to save anything.”

Community leader Ettienne Claasen is calling on the City to give Rolene a brick home and not a shack.

“What is the City going to say to her now after she lost two homes and a husband?” he says.

“The problem is that the City has provided inferior power lines, that’s why there are fires here and this particular electrical box has been open for years.”

Mayoral Committee Member for Human Settlements, Benedicta van Minnen, says they have provided Rolene with emergency housing: “The resident was very happy about the relief provided and told the City that she had informed Eskom of the cable sparking on Sunday.”

Jolene Henn of Eskom says they will revert to the Daily Voice after an investigation takes place.

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