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Mother, children die in shack fire

2024-02-02  Eveline de Klerk

Mother, children die in shack fire

WALVIS BAY - A mother and her two children tragically died in a shack fire in the Democratic Resettlement Community (DRC) at Swakopmund when the shack they were sleeping in caught fire early on Wednesday morning. 

The mother was identified as Stefanie Strauss (32) and her children as Grace Markgraaf (6) and Rechenay Markgraaf (2). 

Acting police spokesperson for Erongo, warrant officer Tuyenikelao Tashiaya, said the deceased (Stefanie) was seen earlier buying something at a local tuck shop by her neighbour.

“Some time later, the same neighbour allegedly detected flames from the deceased’s shack and rushed to her rescue. However, he couldn’t manage to break the door open until the fire had covered the entire shack,” she added. Both police and the Swakopmund fire brigade managed to extinguish the fire before it could spread to surrounding houses.

“Their bodies are currently at the Swakopmund mortuary, and their next of kin have already been informed,” the police indicated yesterday. However, the cause of the fire is yet to be determined.

Spokesperson for the Swakopmund municipality, Linda Mupupa, yesterday described the deaths as an unfortunate tragedy. 



She said there is no information how the fire started, as investigations are still ongoing. However, their fire department responded within four minutes to the fire, and extinguished it within 10 minutes.

“The family could sadly not be saved,
but we managed to avoid the fire from spreading to the surrounding shacks. Hence, only their shack burnt. We also send out our condolences to the families. We are grieving with them, as one death is one death too many in Swakopmund. That is why the council is taking a proactive approach to ensure the housing needs of the residents,” Mupupa

Ironically, the Swakopmund municipality donated 379 erven last week to residents of DRC. Last year, they also donated 805 erven to address the housing challenge in the town. Mupupa stated that these initiatives are all aimed at addressing the town’s housing needs, whose backlog currently stands at 20 000 housing units.

“This is how we are trying to speed up the process, and ensure that many residents can build proper brick houses and have access to electricity to avoid fires and illegal electricity connections. We are doing our best as a municipality to try and do away with the shacks. Unfortunately, it is not as fast as we wish it would be, or as fast as we would want it to be. But we are moving in the right direction to try and alleviate this problem of shack fires,” she said.

She then appealed to residents to make sure that they switch off fire-prone cooking equipment as well as candles before they sleep or leave their homes, as shack fires in many instances are caused by unattended appliances and candles which are left burning throughout the night.

2024-02-02  Eveline de Klerk

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