Driving past the Tembisa Plaza in Ekurhuleni, one can still make out the debris from the fire which broke out during the unrest last year.

Six victims of that fire remain buried under that rubble, and there is no plan in sight to retrieve them.

On 13 July last year, six families watched their loved ones head off to join in the looting at the plaza. They have not seen them since.

They have spent the past year pleading with the government to clear away the wreckage so that they may bury their dead.

Speaking to Scrolla.Africa on the anniversary of his wife’s death, Cremildo Rodrigues said he is still waiting for Silvia Rodrigues.

“We have tried everything to have the government help clear the debris in the shop. It seems like it is not happening,” he said.

He said the bodies of other people who perished in areas that were more easily reached have been taken by their families and buried. “I don’t understand why the shop (Shoprite) where the fire started is not cleaned up.

“If the people who were doing business there are not reopened for business can they just clean it so that we could find closure?”

Cremildo said he and the other five families are now planning to go to the shop to clean up the wreckage themselves. It is not the first time they have tried to take matters into their own hands. They tried to clear away the debris shortly after the fire, but didn’t manage to.

“We are in pain. I don’t know who the owner is. He can’t keep the bodies inside for over a year.”

Phuti Caiphus Moremi, whose wife Kgabo Thabitha Moremi left home to go looting, said that every time he looks at the Tembisa Plaza, he thinks of his wife.

“This has been the most difficult time of my life. I used to do odd jobs but now I can’t as I have to look after the kids. If she is amongst the people who died during the gas explosion, I want to give her a dignified funeral.”

His wife left home telling their four children she was going to join the looters at the Tembisa Plaza. “She has never been seen since,” Phuti told Scrolla.Africa.

by Everson Luhanga for Scrolla.Africa.

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