According to eyewitnesses, shop owners only managed to take a few items out of the fire. Photo by Vulani Baloyi.

By: Vulani Baloyi

THOHOYANDOU – Sunday morning was not like other mornings for the Anet Complex managers, tenants, shop owners and their employees.

This, after a blaze burnt down four shops to ashes. According to eyewitnesses, shop owners only managed to take a few items out of the fire.


An eyewitness said the fire started at one of the Chinese- owned shops and spread to other three shops within the complex.

Although fire fighters were called, they could not do much to put out the fire, an eyewitness said.

Mr Avhapfani Randima (71), a tailor and tenant at the complex, said he started seeing flames at around 9 am. He said they called for help but not much was done to contain the fire. He said he only managed to take a sewing machine out of his shop.

Randima said all the other items in his shop were destroyed in the blaze. He said the items included clothes, new stock and other instruments. Randima said he had run at a loss of about R50 000 in new stock only.

“I can estimate that I have lost about R50 000 in new stock which includes garments and alterations”.

Speaking to GiyaniView next to his burnt shop, Randima who was overcome by emotion compared the unfortunate incident to death. ‘Ndi lufu hezwi’, he said in Tshivenda. He said he had no other means of earning a living than working as a tailor.

“This is just death because as you can see I don’t have any other job except for sewing and designing clothes. This is what I do for a living and to support my family. I am only left with this machine. I don’t even have any other place to keep it. I have to ask neighbouring stores to keep it for me in the meantime”

He said he had no money for new stock. “I don’t have any money for new stock . Now I will have to wait for the complex owner to give us a way forward. It is then that I will decide whether to get a new place to operate from”.

Meanwhile the complex owner Harron Delawala said the incident did not only affect him but also affected the tenants and their employees.

He said there were many people who were employed in those shops but after the fire incident they had no work to do.

“The situation is very bad. People are now out of business.Some are now unemployed. It’s a very bad situation”

Delawala said he had incurred an estimated loss of about R4 Million as a result of the incident.

It had initially been reported that six shops were burnt but Delawala confirmed it was only four shops which were burnt down. However, Delawala said they had not yet established the cause of the fire but Police are still busy with investigations to determine the cause of the fire.

Provincial Police spokesperson Lt. Col Moatshe Ngoepe said on Monday 21 August 2017  that the police’s forensic investigations were underway. He said they had not established the cause of the fire and would make declarations after their investigations on the safety of the complex.”Forensic investigations are underway. We will make declarations about the safety of the complex later. We do not know how long the investigations will take”.

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