Community members are appealing for help to provide relief to a family of eight, left homeless and separated after their flat in Woodstock was left gutted by a fire on Monday night. According to residents, a burning candle fell over and the flat was engulfed in flames. A two month old baby girl was burnt beyond recognition and died as a result.
Charmain Sollons, the foster mother of the eight week old Amara Jones, is distraught and in shambles. She had left her flat at 152 Victoria Walk to go work on Monday evening before the fire broke out.
“I went to work for just a couple of hours, with the intention that Tuesday morning I will have money to buy milk and porridge for her,” said Sollons, as the tears rolled down her face.
Before she left, the baby laid crying and she was forced to take little Amara and rock her to sleep – unbeknown to her that it would be the last time she would hold or see the little bundle of joy that she loved as her own.
Recalling their last moments together, an emotional Sollons said she would give her life for that of Amara’s. She has been the only mother that Amara and her 5 year old brother knew since birth as their biological mother is a drug addict and has not been able to care for them.
“If I had been there I would have gone into the building and saved her,” she said sobbing uncontrollably.
Sollons cares for four foster children, which includes her two biological children as well as her 87 year old mother. The elderly woman was burnt during the fire after saving everyone but Amara.
The family has been left with nothing but the clothes on the back. Sisters Zaiytoon Davids and Azeeza Salie, also Woodstock residents, have been supporting the family with all the basic needs ever since the blaze.
Salie said that although they need clothes for the surviving children, food and even money to replace identity documents, they also need to get the family together.
Charmain’s son, 29 year old Justin Sollons, said the children speak very little and have been left terrified by the incident.
“Last night I made a fire at the place where I am residing at the moment and Amara’s brother stood about 4 meters from the fire and I could see the fear, as he stood there and watched the fire from the distance,” said Justin.
The sisters are hoping for a place to shelter the whole family as the children are not used to being apart. While baby Amara’s biological mother is said to be on the streets, the family awaits DNA test results before a janaza (funeral) can be held and the infant can be laid to rest.
While the family still grieves the gruesome loss while trying to rebuild their lives, all they are hoping for is a place where they can be together as a family again.
Western Cape police said no foul play is suspected and a death inquest docket has been opened. VOC (Imogen Vollenhoven)