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TEACHER’S HOUSE BURNS, FIRE FIGHTERS FAIL TO ATTEND

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NDZINGENI – Despite being their prime duty, firefighters failed to respond to a fire emergency call because they did not have a police escort.

As a result, a teacher’s house around Ndzingeni burnt throughout the night as no one could put out the fire. The fire is said to have started just after midnight on Friday.

Burnt

According to Amos Vilakati, who is a teacher, he said only his house was burnt within the homestead, which has a number of other houses in close proximity of each other. He said according to some of the people who were at home, they claimed to have heard footsteps outside before  the fire started. It is alleged someone may have thrown a flammable substance into the house. The possibility of a candle having caused the fire was ruled out as there was no one inside the house at the time. He said the attempt to put out the fire proved futile as it had already spread and that the flames engulfed the structure.

Responded

Vilakati said the fire emergency services in Pigg’s Peak were called but they did not arrive. When he was called at around 4pm yesterday, the fire emergency services personnel had still not responded to the emergency call. This publication also confirmed from some of the fire emergency personnel that the reason they could not make it was because they did not have police officers to escort them. They confirmed that they had received a call  that there was a house on fire in Ndzingeni but they could not attend to it.  

Threats

They said there was an agreement to be accompanied by the police  for their safety as there had been threats to harm firefighters by unknown people  on social media platforms. Worth noting is that the country has been plagued by random arson attacks due to the current political climate. Some  of the firefighters said there were no available police officers as they were all attending to a fire at the Rocklands Mill where a fire had also started. The firefighters said it was risky for them to respond to emergencies without the escort of the police. They said they could not risk their lives as they had been warned via online publications that they should no longer attend to certain fire emergencies.

Emergencies

However, the firefighters said they did not know which of the fire emergencies they were expected to attend to and which to leave as their mandate is to prevent / stop fires while saving lives and property. Mandla Dlamini, who is the Public Relations Officer (PRO), at The Eswatini Fire Emergency Services when reached for comment said he was not aware of the fire at Ndzingeni. He said he was aware of the fire at the Rocklands Mill and that emergency personnel had responded to it.

Questions

However, he referred questions to the station officer at the Pigg’s Peak Fire Station. A call was also made to the Chief Police Information and Communications Officer Superintendent Phindile Vilakati to enquire if the police had an arrangement to escort fire emergency personnel whenever there was a fire. However, her cellphone rang unanswered.

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