Kind couple take in 14 residents after frail care home gutted by fire

Zelda Marais and pastor Philip Voigt of the Sionsrand Dutch Reformed Church
Picture: Werner Hills

A Port Elizabeth woman and her husband have opened their hearts and home to the survivors of the devastating fire which gutted most of a frail care centre on Friday.

Zelda Marais, 50, of Morningside, who lives up the road from the Executive Frail Care centre in Colin Street, said it was a calling she received from God to help the 14 residents of the centre.

She had opened her home to these residents for as long as they needed, she said.

“I couldn’t drive past there and do nothing.”

Marais said that when she drove past the burning building on Friday she knew she had to do something. “So I threw my house keys out the window and shouted out my address.

“The support from the Port Elizabeth community has been phenomenal, it has been a wonderful chain reaction,” she said.

Yesterday, an impromptu church service was held in Colin Street, with people from all walks of life attending.

“I woke up at around 11pm [on Saturday] and sent a message on our neighbourhood watch group and said we needed to give thanks,” Marais said.

The fire, which started at about 8am on Friday, claimed the life of amputee David Oberholzer, 73, whose body was found in an upstairs bedroom.

Marais said although there was still a lot of confusion among the centre’s residents, many of them had family members visiting them over the weekend.

“We are trying to make them as comfortable as possible.”

The cause of the fire is still unknown and forensic investigations are still under way.

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