City blamed for fire damage

2019-07-02 06:01
Residents suspect the fire was due to a faulty electricity socket.

Residents suspect the fire was due to a faulty electricity socket.

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A week later, there is still no help for the family of six who lost everything after a fire broke out at their shack in Cathkin Informal Settlement in Heideveld on Thursday 20 June.

The incident happened around 10:00.

A victim, Jerome Moses says it left them and four other families distraught.

Moses’s family has been sleeping in a container used for a feeding scheme in the community while waiting for the City of Cape Town officials to help them with emergency relief starter packs. Other families lost their furniture and must still repair parts of their shacks.

After the City allegedly failed to clear the debris, victims started cleaning on their own and are using old zinc sheets to fix their shacks. Victims are between the ages of two to 47.

According to them, it is the first time they are affected by a fire incident in more than a year of occupying the land. They illegally moved to the land after the City allegedly failed to provide them with houses. They’ve been waiting for more than 20 years.

These fire victims previously stayed in the backyard of the homes of their families in Noleen Courts, and the land which is just at the back of the court was vacant all these years. Since occupying the land, victims say they have been appealing to the City for basic services such as water, sanitation and electricity and none have been delivered yet.

“There was no water to put out the fire, people had to use sand and the fire was spreading fast. It would have been easy to prevent these damages if the City had listened,” says a devastated Moses.

A community leader Vanessa Adriaanse adds that the City is to be blamed as “they have neglected us for putting our lives at risk for too long. You cannot expect people to live with children and no basic services. No one wanted to live at an informal settlement, but the backyard became so cramped and it was difficult sharing the space.”

She says they need answers about their houses. According to Adriaanse, there were 110 shacks in the squatter camp with residents up to the age of 70.

The City confirmed that the cause of the fire is unknown at the stage.

Malusi Booi, Mayco member for human settlements says the City is mindful of the severe need for housing opportunities across the Metro. He says the City has housing projects in Heideveld and Manenberg, and some qualifying beneficiaries have received their homes.

Booi explains that beneficiaries of all City housing projects are allocated in accordance with the City’s Allocation Policy and the housing database to ensure that housing opportunities are provided to qualifying applicants in a fair, transparent and equitable manner, and to prevent queue-jumping.

“We are making every effort to address this matter and to provide services within a planned and fair manner wherever possible within the constraints, such as available budget, suitable land and community dynamics and so on, that are being experienced. Generally, residents need to register on the City’s housing database to be considered for housing opportunities that become available,” says Booi.V For any donation call Vanessa Adriaanse on 063 232 2202.

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