Suddenly Bulelwa stood still, in silence. She had heard another sound. It was the sound of a loud hailer.

“Everyone must leave their house! Everybody out! There is no time to lose! Evacuate! Evacuate! Help yourselves and do not delay or it will be too late! Leave now! Leave now!”

Bulelwa rushed to a window and peered out. She could see nothing and so she opened the kitchen door as little as she could and slipped out.

“I’ll be back Gogo!” she called before she shut the door again.

Outside she could hardly see a metre in front of her. The wind was howling. Huge embers were flying through the air in every direction. Nearby she could make out that a tree, a tree that she had always climbed as a child – that tree was alight. The flames of the fire had completely engulfed the tree trunk and were now playing and dancing their deathly dance amongst the leaves and the branches.

The air was still filled with more and more explosions. She could hear the sound of cars and taxis, and people shouting.

“Lunga!” she cried out desperately. “Lunga!”

Bulelwa knew it was hopeless. Lunga, Sipho and the rest had left a long time before. She thought of Mudira, but her home was too far away. She could not leave Gogo for that long.

“Please God,” she found herself calling out into the boiling air, “please keep Mudira safe!”

Bulelwa turned and ran back into the house.

“Gogo!” she cried out. “Gogo we must leave! We must go now! The fire is coming!”

Bulelwa ran over to Gogo and tried to help her up. By the light of the candle Bulelwa could see that her granny was slumped in her chair, too weak to move. She was trying to speak.

“Go!” she was saying very softly. “You go!”

“Never,” said Bulelwa, reaching over and trying to make her Gogo more comfortable. “Never Gogo! I will never leave you!”


Tell us: The fire is affecting the rich and the poor. Do you think this horrifying experience is the same for everybody? Or is it worse for the poor? If so, why?