Fire victims praise City efforts

2018-01-11 06:00
Neva-Neva informal settlement residents rebuild their shacks after they burned down early morning last SaturdayPHOTO: Unathi OBOSE

Neva-Neva informal settlement residents rebuild their shacks after they burned down early morning last SaturdayPHOTO: Unathi OBOSE

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Neva-Neva informal settlement residents in Lower Crossroads spent last weekend in the cold following a fire that ravaged their shacks.

About 23 shacks burnt to the ground, leaving 92 people, including children, homeless. The cause of the fire, which erupted at 3AM on Saturday, is still unknown.

Resident Nkosinathi Nkohla said it all started with the shack next to his, and spread to others.

“The fire started in my neighbours shack where my nephew was sleeping. He (nephew) said he woke up to a house full of smoke, and the electricity box engulfed in flames.

He ran out to sound the alarm, and by the time we came out, the shacks were in flames, which quickly spread to others in the neighbourhood.

Nkohla said his nephew was looking after a neighbour’s house while the man is in the Eastern Cape.

Nkohla said the flames spread fast because of the wind.

“All my belongings perished in the fire including my identity documents. All my nephew’s clothes and school uniform burned inside. I am left with the clothes that I am wearing now. I don’t know what to do,” said Nkohla.

However, he was full of praise for the efforts of the City of Cape Town to put out the fires and the quick response in giving them starter packs to rebuild their shacks.

“The City gave us 25 corrugated iron, door, window, nail, padlock and 14 poles to rebuild our shacks,” he said.

Nkohla urged the city to speed up service delivery.

“There is little development happening in the area. I arrived here in 2003, but few people relocated to formal houses. Councillors come and go and they all make empty promises,” he said.

Nkohla emphasised though that this was the first incident of its kind in the area.

“It’s a first time in D Section. It used to happen in other areas.

Unathi Rathi,32, another resident, said he heard people shouting “fire-fire” and he jumped out of the bed and went out.

“The time I went out the smoke was already coming inside my house and the flames were started to come out from my neighbours house and spreading to ours.

“I ran back and grab the bucket to fetch water from a communal tap and when I came back my house was already engulfed with flames.

“ I lost everything including my bank cards and identity documents,” said the father of three children. Rathi described the conditions in Neva-Neva as disgusting and said they need proper houses.

“Every time in winter we get floods. There area is filthy and the storm water drains are not working.

There is little service delivery in the area,” he explained.

Ward councillor Siphiwo Nqamnduku said the fire suspected started in an electricity box and spread to the house.

He said the city provided them with building material to rebuild their shacks. Nqamnduku lashed out to the city and ordered them to speed up the land process.

“My concern is for people living in informal settlements to get proper houses.

The city must speed up the process of getting land.

“The city said there is no land, and I say if there is no land available to relocate people the city must do re-blocking to save them from shack fires,” he advised.


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