DESTROYED: A recycling warehouse in Epping
An investigation into the living circumstances at a warehouse in Epping is underway after an early morning blaze which led to the death of a 33-year-old mother.

Victoria de Kock, known as Poppie, was trapped inside a shack she occupied with her boyfriend inside a warehouse in 19th Avenue and burnt to death.

Neighbour Maria Bier says her boyfriend left early in the morning for work and shortly afterwards the fire started: “Ons almal bly in hokkies binne in die gebou. Dit is a stoorkamer vir die recycling en die baas kom haal hulle elke oggend. Haar outjie was net weg en toe begin die brand. Ek het gehoor hoe sy gil maar kon nie vir haar uitkry nie.”

Fire and Rescue Services spokesperson, Theo Layne, says more than 20 firefighters were sent to extinguish the blaze and at this stage the cause of the fire is undetermined.

RESIDENT: Maria Bier

He says 30 people have been displaced.

Congolese national, Alain Ngonde, 33, says more than 200 people live in a different section of the building.

“I’ve lived here with my wife and two children for five years. There are many Congolese living here and we lost all our stuff. We pay R1 000 rent per month.”

Ward councillor, Franchesca Walker, says the owner must be investigated: “We saw small rooms where board was used as dividers. There were no proper facilities and the people were all living on the top floor. There are a range of by-laws that have been broken.”

The owner’s son, John Khan, says they had no idea how many were living there and claims many had occupied the space illegally.

“The owner is my father and he is 78 years old and so I took control. We had no idea people were living inside the warehouse. Also on the top floor we have nine legal tenants, the others don’t have permission to be there.

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