IY resident struggles with life after fire

More than eight months after helping a woman during a fire in Imizamo Yethu, John Katemba still struggles to walk as a result of the injuries he sustained.

When John Katemba, 34, from Imizamo Yethu helped a woman during a fire in November last year, he could never have imagined that his act of goodwill will cost him his business and leave him with a huge medical bill.

More than eight months after the incident, John is still unable to bend his right knee and cannot provide for his wife, Christine and two children, Happiness, 6 and Grace, 11.

After tripping over a fire hose while helping a woman carry the household contents of her shack to safety, John who has lived in Imizamo Yethu since 2009, sustained a very deep cut to his right kneecap.

“There were people everywhere and I was carrying a large plastic bag filled with glass.

“There was a fire hose in the narrow road and someone pushed me from behind so I tripped and fell onto the bag I was carrying,” he said.

While helping the woman, John left his fruit and vegetable container, a business he has been running for the past six years, in the hands of his cousin, trusting he would look after his business that was the family’s bread and butter.

But arriving home after spending two weeks in Victoria Hospital in Wynberg, his container was empty with no sign of his stock or his cousin.

He later found out his cousin was in Delft but was unable to go there due to his injury. Since then, he has been told, his cousin has fled to Malawi.

“To date he has given me no explanation as to what happened to my stock. The container was well stocked and I made a decent living from the business,” he said.

In the meantime he also had to sell his car, which he used for business to make ends meet.

Since then John has had three operations. He is hoping that he will be able to bend his knee and have the bandages removed after his check-up in two weeks.

He says he holds no grudges and his biggest dream is to reopen his business again so he is able to support his family.

“I would need stock to do that and as I am unable to work at the moment it is impossible to get the money to buy stock again,” he said.