PANDEMONIUM broke out in the Twaloloka informal settlement of Walvis Bay following a riot in the wake of a fire that destroyed an entire block of shacks.
The tragedy has so far claimed the lives of two people, while more than 400 people were left without a roof over their heads at a time when the COVID-19 pandemic has the harbour town firmly in its grip.
The badly burned bodies of a child and an adult were discovered amongst the debris by members of the Marshall Rangers, a group of civilians that volunteer their free time to assist law enforcement agencies and emergency services.
One of the volunteers said he assisted a worried father to help find his wife and child in the chaos.
“We went into the blaze after most of the house have been burned to the ground and when we got to his home, I saw the burned remains of his one-year-old child and his wife under some debris. I turned him away from the scene and escorted him back to the safety of the street so that he could be treated for shock,” he said.
Hundreds of residents of the block of houses stood and watched helplessly while all their worldly possession went up in smoke.
Thousand more gathered in the streets surrounding the scene of the tragedy.
The people living on the outer reaches of the block of houses that were built in close proximity to each other managed to carry some of the personal belongings to the safety of the street.
Further chaos broke out when a pipe that supplies water to other more permanent homes in the vicinity burst.
The water flooded some of the houses, leaving more people exposed to the elements.
Being a relatively new informal settlement the Twaloloka area, which directly translates to “we are tired” in Oshiwambo, has not been provided with all municipal services like fire hydrants yet.
This means that the Walvis Bay fire brigade had to make use of tanker truck to fight the raging blaze.
With limited capacity, the tanker truck quickly ran out of water, which meant that the fire brigade was forced to leave the scene of the blaze a few times to fetch more water to fight the fire and to keep it from spreading.
Members of the special Reserve Force had to fire several warning shots in an effort to disperse the angry crowd of people, who had resorted to throwing stones and bottles.
This Namibian Police’s Special Reserve force was called in to quell the rising emotions of hundreds of people gathered at the scene.
The Fire Brigade had to make a hasty retreat as people armed with pangas, spades and pick axes threatened them with violence.
Several emergency vehicles were damaged during the riot that ensued.
The cause of the fire is not yet known and the death toll of two has not been officially confirmed by law enforcement agencies yet.