Hida fire victims still in the hall

2018-11-27 06:01
Hangberg fire survivors with the Muslim Hands United for the Needy.PHOTOs: Nomzamo Yuku

Hangberg fire survivors with the Muslim Hands United for the Needy.PHOTOs: Nomzamo Yuku

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A month later, 13 families out of the 26 that were affected by a fire in the Hida informal settlement in Hout Bay are still crying out to the City of Cape Town to give them proper land on which to rebuild their homes.

They were talking to People’s Post on Wednesday 21 November during a donation handover by the Muslim Hands United for the Needy SA team.

According to Muhammad Junaid Li, spokesperson for the non-profit organisation, they had learned about the plight of these families and as an organisation that assists mostly in destitute circumstances, they saw fit to play a role in providing a relief mechanism to the survivors.

The donation consisted of groceries and mattresses for the affected families.

He said they hoped other organisations would also find it in their hearts to help and ensure that the families are living in sustainable conditions during their wait.

Li says the monetary value of everything amounted to about R55 000.

The affected families have been living in the Hangberg Civic Centre since the incident, on Monday 19 October.

They share the public toilets at the centre and take turns to bath in the bathroom.

They have divided the hall into kitchens and bedrooms, with some families of up to more than five members sharing a small space, sleeping on matrasses and or using chairs to make beds.

Jannelee Davids said the situation is volatile and badly affecting the children who are currently in the middle of their exams.

“There is noise and children sometimes stay up until [midnight]. They cannot do their homework or study. There is no routine and you cannot even leave because your stuff is exposed. We want our lives to go back to normal. We want the City to allocate us a plot. We want to go home.”

She said the City has been giving them the run-around when it comes to space for them to rebuild their homes, as she claimed their ward councillor, Roberto Quintas, had promised there was a plot available but they later found out from the City’s disaster management officials that there was no allocated plot as yet.

Davids lives with her three children and her husband in the hall, all sharing a bed made of chairs.

She said they are willing to endure the situation until the City provides a dignified response and said if it takes continuous picketing, they will do that.

They took to the streets to voice their plight when they picketed on Sunday 18
November.

Another survivor is Atieka Oliver, who is in her 40s. She had moved back in with her mother (in Hida) and is now living apart from her husband. She said she is ashamed to find herself in this situation and wishes the City could come to their aid soon.

She suffered burn wounds to her face and arm, which are now healed but have left bad scars.

She said they are disappointed at how the City has handled their tragedy.

Roscoe Jacobs, a local youth activist who has been helping the victims and sleeping with them in the hall, thanked the NPO for the donation.

He then said they are waiting on the City to respond to their pleas for land or to fix the slope at the informal settlement.

He said when they requested the City to rebuild they were told there are no funds, “which we found strange because earlier this we were told there was a budget for housing development in the area which would start at the end of October.”

Luthando Tyhalibongo, spokesperson for the City of Cape Town, says the City conducted a site inspection on Friday 26 October and found that, in order to successfully terrace the burned area to enable the 100% safe resettlement of all fire-affected residents, retaining wall structures are required to stabilise the currently falling and unstable
embankments.

“However, this would require a formal design and construction process which cannot be limited and isolated to the fire-affected area only.

“ In order for the City to successfully effect a design and construction process, areas beyond the fire zone would have to be included, causing additional displacement of informal structures not currently fire-damaged. It is important to note that the slope is and was always unstable, hence the area is not part of the formal housing development,” says Tyhalibongo.

He says to avoid disturbing additional informal dwellings beyond the “periphery” of the fire zone, the City has recommended that these families relocate to vacant spaces in and around the Hida informal settlement area, as well as to the spaces deemed safe by those who wish to construct and resettle within their original spaces.V If you would like to support the victims, you may visit them at the Hangberg Civic Centre or call Roscoe Jacobs on 082 261 1174.

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