Abahlali rebuild after fire ruins

2015-11-19 06:00
About 40 shacks were gutted down by fire, last week, in Joe Slovo, Langa. PHOTO: Mbongiseni Maseko

About 40 shacks were gutted down by fire, last week, in Joe Slovo, Langa. PHOTO: Mbongiseni Maseko

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Hopes of spending a fire-free christmas for some families in Joe Slovo, Langa, received a massive setback, after flames ate more tha 40 shacks last Thursday evening.

Resident Philani Tsawe said he was in his shack when he heard residents scream that there was a fire at about 6pm.

Tsawe said they were still in the dark as to what caused the fire, because the owner of the shack where the fire started was at work at the time and that there was no one inside.

“We do not know what caused the fire, because there was no one in the shack where the fire started. The owner was at work. I lost everything I had in the flames. It hurts me a lot that the clothes that I bought for my two children, who are in the Eastern Cape, also burnt to ashes. All my plans and budget for going home have been shattered now, because I lost everything that I had and I am unemployed,” Tsawe said.

This was the fourth time Tsawe had become a victim of fire since 2010.

“It is becoming a norm now that every year around December, I become a victim of fire. I wish to get a decent house now,” he added.

Siyabonga Zayi, also a victim, said there was no time to take anything away from the shack.

“I lost everything I had. The Christmas clothes for my two children also burnt down. It is very dangerous to stay in a shack. Some residents died in previous incidents of fire here. We are always in fear that we will burn to ashes when we go to sleep,” Zayi said.

Some residents said they also lost their Identity Documents (IDs). Councillor Mayenzeke Sopaqa, of Ward 52, said it is not clear what caused the fire which destroyed the 40 shacks.

“This is a very big damage for me as the councillor. It is painful that some had already prepared for the festive season, but their plans have now changed. They will no longer be able to travel to spend Christmas with their families in the Eastern Cape. I appeal to anyone to take precautions when it comes to fire at all times,” Sopaqa said.

There were no injuries reported.

Sopaqa said this was the 23rd incident of fire in the area since he took office in 2011.

He said he is now standing at 60 percent of allocating the residents who will benefit from the N2 Gageway Project.

Some trucks and officials were busy cleaning the mess when City Vision visited on Thursday.

The residents also recfeived starter packs and blankets from the City to rebuild their shacks.

Patrick Kulati, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) for Household Energy Safety Association of South Africa, said they will be conducting an awareness campaign in Langa, on the first week of December where they will educate residents about safety measures to prevent fire.

The door to door campaign will be one of many which have already been done in different areas across the country.

“The problem is that the information alone that we give to residents is not enough, because some get drunk and forget about what we said.

“We say residents should buy appliances which are of good and approved condition for use to prevent the spark of fire,” Kulati said.

The campaign will be done in collaboration with Tota oil company.

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