‘We’re fed up of fires’

2016-02-09 06:00
Residents clear debris after a fire destroyed about 30 homes in Imizamo Yethu in Hout Bay last week.  PHOTO: Thula thula HOUT bAY

Residents clear debris after a fire destroyed about 30 homes in Imizamo Yethu in Hout Bay last week. PHOTO: Thula thula HOUT bAY

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Imizamo Yethu residents in Hout Bay have accused the City of Cape Town of turning a blind eye. That’s why fires continue to happen in the informal settlement, they say.

Another fire gutted about 30 houses and left over 200 people destitute last week. This follows a fire in December that left a thousand people homeless. One person also died in the December fire.

Samkelo Krweqe, chairperson of the South African National Civic Organisation (Sanco) in the area, says they can’t take it anymore. They are calling on the City to come up with a lasting solution because they are fed up of losing their belongings.

“We have tried to engage with them but meetings are not helping us.

“It’s so traumatising to come home to see everything that you have worked hard for has been damaged in the fire. We want service delivery here and we are calling on the City to put in electricity. We can’t continue to live like this,” he says.

The cause of last week’s fire is unknown but residents suspect that a two-plate stove that had been left on while electricity was off might have led to the fire.

“People who were at the scene first say there was a burner stove which had been left on because there was no electricity.

“We are traumatised and we are calling on the City to act. What makes it even worse is that the ward councillor, who is a public representative, calls us land invaders. It’s clear they are not going to help us. We are tired; we want the proper services,” says Krweqe.

Following the fire, victims were accommodated at a nearby church and by relatives and friends. They also received humanitarian relief, including food.

Various City departments have been working to help these families rebuild their lives, says Benedicta van Minnen, mayoral committee member for human settlements. They were also given building materials.

She says the City conducts ongoing fire awareness and education campaigns to educate residents on the dangers of fire, as well as hazards, preventative measures and how they can work with the City to reduce the risk and number of fires.

“It is important for the community to be constantly vigilant of potential fires and to allocate one person to be a lookout in case a fire starts. The more areas that do this, the less fire devastation we will see, as too many times fires that affect entire communities are caused by the behaviour of one or a few negligent and irresponsible residents. No city in the world can monitor the behaviour of residents all the time.”

Donations for the fire victims from the public are being accepted and managed by a non-governmental organisation called Thula Thula Hout Bay, situated between Berg n Dal Estate and the BP Garage, across from the riding centre on Main Road in Hout Bay. V For more information email info@thula-thula.org or visit the Facebook page of Thula Thula Hout Bay.

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