Man perishes in fire after neighbour tries to 'keep him safe'. CREDIT: Bertram Malgas

A woman who locked up her drunk neighbour to keep him safe was horrified to learn he burnt to death after his shack caught fire and he couldn’t escape.

The fire in NY78 in Gugulethu claimed the life of Zuko Bakagane, 35, and left 43 people homeless, the youngest just a year old.

The fire which started just before 1am yesterday morning affected 16 shacks, of which 12 burnt to the ground.

Authorities say the fire was caused by a burning candle that was left unattended.

Fire and Rescue Services’ Theo Layne says: “The cause of the fire was a candle left unattended and it ignited personal effects.”

When the Daily Voice arrived on the scene yesterday, residents could be seen scrounging through the rubble searching for anything worth saving as many were left with only the clothes on their backs.

Neighbours say Zuko worked as a security guard.

Yolanda Phasiya, 36, who also lost everything in the fire, was the last person to see Zuko alive.


“I was the last person to see Zuko, he was drunk so I went over to his place and locked it up, and I went to our other neighbour to just notify her of what I’d done. Just before 1am I heard people shouting there is fire.

A horrified Yolanda says: “I heard him screaming, crying, asking for help but it all happened so fast. We don’t know what we are going to do now, we are just lost.”

The victim’s mother Nomasomi Bakagane, 55, was overcome with emotion and could not speak.

The Proportional Representative Councillor for NY78, Bulelwa Madikanei, was on the scene assisting people.

“The housing department was here to asses the damages. We appeal for assistance of any kind, as these people lost everything,” Madikanei said.