Help for fire victims

2017-06-20 06:00
Fire victims queuing outside a home affairs mobile office that visited Factreton soon after the most recent fire.PHOTO: Nomzamo yuku

Fire victims queuing outside a home affairs mobile office that visited Factreton soon after the most recent fire.PHOTO: Nomzamo yuku

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About 90 residents of Factreton who have fallen victim to fire hope to get their lives back soon as they wait on their documentation to be finalised by the Department of Home Affairs before the end of the month.

The residents applied for their personal documents earlier this month, when a home affairs mobile office visited Factreton just a few days after four families had lost their belongings in a fire.

A home affairs manager, Quincy Shenxane, says issuing the documentation usually take less than four weeks. He says the residents were prioritised by the department and it is necessary for them to get their IDs quickly so they can continue with their lives.

“As the department we always advise people to contact us immediately when something like this happens so we can quickly provide our services to them. We believe without the necessary documentation life becomes harder and that adds a lot of stress to people who have already lost so much,” Shenxane says.

The community has experienced two fires in a period of five months. The first incident in February left more than 26 families in the 6th Avenue informal settlement homeless. Earlier this month, four families woke up to flames in their shacks, leaving them with only the clothes they were wearing.

They have all received help, including documentation, material to rebuild their shacks and R1600 from the Department of Social Development to help them buy the ­basics.

The fire victims say they were happy with the speed at which government officials moved to make sure they get their lives back.

Resident Margaret Roman says she was worried sick after a fire burned all her belongings, but she is glad that now she does not only have a roof over her head but will also be receiving her documentation soon.

Roman says: “I was frustrated. I have never lost my documents before but now I am calm, knowing that I will be getting them very soon.”

Roman was among 44 people who lost everything in a fire in February. She has waited for more than five months to get help. She says she was told at home affairs that her application was processed in April but when she went to check again in May she was told she had to apply again. “I am grateful to home affairs for coming to us,” says Roman.

One of the victims of the recent fire, Wilhelmina Stuurman, says she is happy that her life is getting back to normal and is thankful for donations by members of the community, building material quickly delivered by the municipality to help them rebuild their shacks and the help provided by the department of home affairs.

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