Families lose everything in fire

30 December 2014 | Accidents

Two Windhoek families lost all their earthly possessions in a shack fire on Monday afternoon. George and Agatha Garoës, who are both 66 years old, had spent many years buying building material with the aim of moving back to southern Namibia. The couple, who had been working in Windhoek before they retired, recently received a piece of land on a resettlement farm near Mariental and were planning on moving there at the end of January. Garoës fought back tears as she told Namibian Sun how they would use the little money they had left every month to buy things like corrugated-iron sheets, paint, poles and doors for what was supposed to be their retirement home. They even saved enough money to buy a solar panel to use on the farm. On Monday afternoon, George Garoëb heard his wife’s screams and saw the shack that served as their storeroom engulfed in flames. Helplessly, they watched on as their retirement nest egg went up in smoke. The fire started in their neighbours’ backyard, where Vanessa Cloete’s family lived in three adjoining shacks. One shack was home to Cloete’s aunt, her husband and four children. The middle shack was home to Cloete’s cousin, her boyfriend and their three-month-old baby. Cloete’s three teenage sons lived in the third shacks while Cloete lives in the kitchen of a house on the same yard. “We lost everything. All the belongings we had are gone,” Cloete said. Cloete, who is a domestic worker, was asleep on Monday afternoon when she was awakened by screams from one of the three shacks. With the wind blowing, soon all three shacks were up in flames. Although no one was hurt in the fire, the baby, who was asleep when the fire started, had to be rushed to hospital to be treated for smoke inhalation. Cloete and her family watched helplessly as the fire brigade battled for more than an hour to extinguish the fire. “Everything that we have worked hard for is gone. I am a domestic worker and together we are only three breadwinners for these families. The children lost their computer, our clothes, bedding, beds, everything is gone,” she said. The Garoëb and Cloete families are appealing to Good Samaritans for assistance. Anyone who would like to assist the Garoëb family can contact Agatha Garoëb on 081 230 2619. The Cloete family can be reached at 081 877 5507 or 081 741 7333. WINDHOEK GORDON JOSEPH

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