Fire tragedy leaves confusion

2017-03-16 06:03

At least three people have died after a devastating fire destroyed 3,500 structures and left about 15,000 people homeless in Imizamo Yethu Informal Settlement in Hout Bay at the weekend.

The fire started at about 11pm on Friday, say residents, and blazed until the next day.

However, by Monday, some people had started rebuilding their homes while others stood in long lines to register for building materials provided by the City of Cape Town.

Others were trying to salvage materials from the piles of debris and burnt shacks.

Trucks carrying food stuff could be seen in the area, with volunteers giving bread and drinks to the affected residents.

Many people were carting the belongings they had managed to save from the flames to places of safety.

Deborah Mkhapuza from the Imizamo Yethu Movement said that the shacks that were rebuilt on Sunday had to be demolished after the City announced its intention to re-block the area.

“There was a lot of fighting because the City just acts without notifying people. They (the residents) do not know what is happening even though they are the ones that have lost their homes,” said Mkhapuza.

Residents Chris Shumba and Sphamandla Mdakathana said they were not opposed to the City’s plan to re-block the area, but Shumba asked, “They [The City] propose a plan that is only good in writing. Did they think about where we will sleep while they do the roads that they are talking about?”

Peter Yasin and Somila Xhanti were among the residents who have been sleeping outside on the mountain above the settlement to keep an eye on their remaining belongings.

Yasin has been living in Imizamo Yethu for two years. He works as a gardener and pays rents of R400 a month.

“I do not know if I will have a home or not. I was renting from someone; I have no space of my own,” he said.

Since the fire, Xhanti and her partner have built a small shelter for themselves on the mountain as a place to sleep. Her temporary shelter is made out of the old burnt material and her single bed mattress can barely fit inside.

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