On the 21st of August 2017, an electrical fault at one of Citi Q’s student accommodations almost left a considerable number of tenants homeless.
“It was dark, the whole place was filled with smoke and we struggled to find our way to the assembly point. We did not know where to go, we had to be called from the street to assemble at the TV room, I felt petrified as my main focus was to be safe,” said a resident at Umhlanga Junction.
The metered electric box at Umhlanga Junction residence sparked a flame due to an electrical overload. The incident left many of the tenants at the residence shocked and in fear.
No injuries were sustained but the well-being of students was not evaluated. The tenants said they only got an apology and the following day it was business as usual.
“The house mother never asked if any of us needed medical attention as we inhaled a lot of smoke, that makes me feel like they don’t care about our well-being as such protocol should have been taken into consideration.”
“The apology was not enough, it would’ve been worse, some of the students were afraid of going back to sleep because they were afraid that the fire might start again”, said Miranda Kekana a resident at Umhlanga Junction.
As the smoke of the fire grew thicker and blurred sight, the tenants had to use torch lights in their mobile phones to find an escapement way. “I feel as if the residence should include torches for us students in our flats as it was difficult for us to get down from the top floor,” one tenant told The Open Journal.
The caretaker, who was reluctant to reveal her details, but The Open Journal understands her to be known as “Rebecca”, said the fault was reported to City Power on the 18th of August 2017, but nothing was implemented to mitigate any possible danger. It was clear that there was more damage done to the metered box than good.
Rebecca said this is the first incident to have happened at Mhlanga residence. “The fire was put out by the staff and we made sure that maintenance fixed the metered electrical box immediately so that students can proceed with their lives the next day.”
The two-floored residence has four fire extinguishers at every corner of the complex, but power failure remains largely common in many student accommodations.
At this time of the year, last year in August 2016, the life of a UJ student Kwanele Mabaso was claimed by a fire that broke out at his residence in Brixton. Maybe this is a clear indication that residences should implement fire drills to ensure the safety of students.
City Power was not available for a comment to verify whether the fire was truly reported on the 18th of August and nothing was done.