“We want houses”!

2018-10-25 06:00
A section of SST was reduced to corrugated iron debris in the aftermath of a fire. PHOTO: Lindile Mbontsi

A section of SST was reduced to corrugated iron debris in the aftermath of a fire. PHOTO: Lindile Mbontsi

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Calls are mounting for the government to build houses and relocate thousands of informal settlement dwellers following a devastating fire that claimed the life of a 31-year-old man, Sango Nqeneka, in SST in Town Two, on Saturday morning.

An estimated 1 300 people were left homeless when the fire broke out, destroying 342 structures.

In a separate incident, about 1 400 people were also left homeless when a fire broke out and destroyed 120 dwellings in Philippi on Sunday.

The two fires have caused a stir in society, with residents and advocacy group the Social Justice Coalition saying enough is enough.

Resident Zandile Kapteni said the latest fire was a wake-up call to everyone, including the government. He has been staying there since 1992, after relocating fom Grabouw, he said.

“Residents have been earnestly waiting for the government to provide houses ... During elections, they promise us heaven and earth,” said Kapteni.

Kapteni was busy rebuilding his shack, when City Vision spoke to him.

He was disillusioned with the appalling conditions his family has had to live under since the fire broke out.

“We live as a group and we cannot even take a private bath,” he said. “Unless you ask the people living in proper houses around here,”

They are not always happy, said Kapteni, referring to the homeowners.

The Social Justice Coalition’s Axola Notywala said the fires showed the City’s failure to “plan properly”

He said they had been engaging the City in an effort to avert such tragedies. He called on the City to stop acting like a “humanitarian organisation”, but be proactive.

“The City is guilty and must account for what has happened. They should not act as a humanitarian organisation by acting on crises,” he said.

Notywala said according to the City’s Informal Settlement Pipeline Project document only 12 out of 384 informal settlements had a plan and a budget.

“The fact that there is not a plan contributes to the problems we are experiencing,” said Notywala. “They are failing to plan accordingly.”

Ntomboxolo Makoba-Somdaka, spokesperson for Human Settlements MEC Bonginkosi Madikizela, said various stakeholders met on Monday to discuss ways to avert similar incidents.

These, she said include relocating some of the residents to a “nearby” piece of land. She said such a move would allow the municipality to install crucial services and make the area more accessible to emergency vehicles.

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