South Africans rally behind Khayelitsha fire victims

2018-10-22 17:31
Advocate Unathi Gcilishe has volunteered her chambers as a drop-off point.

Advocate Unathi Gcilishe has volunteered her chambers as a drop-off point.

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Activists, Twitter celebs, non-governmental organisations and ordinary citizens have come out in droves to support the victims of a Khayelitsha fire that displaced more than 1 300 residents on Saturday.

Almost immediately after the tragic fire, Tumi Sole - well known for his #CountryDuty tweets - started coordinating relief efforts throughout the country under the hashtag #RememberKhayelitsha.

"When it comes to Khayelitsha, I grew up in an informal settlement, so I understand what it means to live in a shack," Sole told News24.

"Despite our differences, South Africans are good people and we all have that human element of wanting to assist."

On Sunday, Sole also set up a fund for donations that has received an overwhelming response.

"As of yesterday, we raised an estimated R8 000. As soon as the tweet with the banking details went up, even people from overseas started donating," he said.

"Our people are on the ground conducting a needs analysis. Our focus is on women and children, specifically matrics who are writing exams."

He also enlisted the help of individuals who were willing to use their workplaces as drop-off points for donations.

One such individual is advocate Unathi Gcilishe, who has volunteered her chambers at 42 Keerom Street in the Cape Town CBD as a drop-off point.

Roeland Street fire station is a drop-off point fo

Roeland Street fire station is a drop-off point for donations to the victims of the Khayelitsha fire. (Christina Pitt, News24)

 

"I am doing this because I have the means. I am actually from Khayelitsha, so it's very close to home, and I have access," she said.

"I believe that South Africa, generally, has a spirit of ubuntu. I just told Tumi Sole today that people can drop off donations at my chambers, and someone has already brought in a box of clothes. It will probably pick up throughout the week."

Drop-off points

News24 has partnered with disaster relief organisation Gift of the Givers, which has prepared a R2m aid package for residents who have been left with nothing but the clothes on their backs.

News24 offices at 40 Heerengracht in Cape Town and 69 Kingsway Avenue in Auckland Park, Johannesburg, are both drop-off points.

Gift of the Givers is also working closely with the City of Cape Town and the South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) to provide hot meals, bottled water, blankets, new clothing, school uniforms, stationery packs, mattresses, towels, hygiene packs, plastic utensils and building materials.

The NGO was on site, arranging meals for the victims of the devastating shack fire on Sunday.

"People were in a state of shock, hungry (not having eaten since 03:00 on 20 October when the disaster occurred), traumatised and deeply upset," founder Dr Imtiaz Sooliman said.


The Khayelitsha Fire Station and Roeland Street Fire Station in the CBD are also designated drop-off points.

When News24 arrived at Roeland Street Fire Station, Sassa officials were on their way to collect the third batch of parcels for the day, that included clothing, food and stationery donated by Capetonians.

Social workers deployed

Social Development MEC Albert Fritz said that the department would monitor the provision of humanitarian relief by Sassa.

"It should be noted that in each fire, there were complaints about Sassa's ability to provide disaster relief. I call on Sassa to reevaluate their disaster management supply chain," he said in a statement.

"It is essential that as we go into a new fire season, that Sassa does not abandon the most vulnerable in society."

The department has also deployed social workers, who have provided counselling to those affected by the death of their loved one and the loss of their homes.

Equal Education has also encouraged the residents of Johannesburg to donate supplies at their offices in 85 Eloff Street in Johannesburg Central.

Corporate South Africa also rushed to assist the cause.

Pick n Pay sent their employees from their Khayelitsha, Somerset Mall, Promenade and Vangate branches to help with providing cooked meals, water, energy drinks and grocery items, to assist those affected, and to the on-site disaster management teams.

They have donated food packs for 640 children every day since the fire and are in the process of arranging school shoes, clothing, bags and stationery.

"At times like this, it is important we rally together to support families and communities in need," Director of Transformation at Pick n Pay Suzanne Ackerman-Berman said.

"We feel deeply upset by the pain that the Khayelitsha community is going through."

Capetonians can head to any Pick n Pay store to donate items.

Shoprite has also partnered with Gift of the Givers to feed victims of the fire. 

Drop-off points (Cape Town):

  • Khayelitsha Fire Station, Mandela Park, Khayelitsha
  • Media24, 40 Heerengracht Street, Cape Town City Centre
  • Advocate Unathi Gcilishe, 42 Keerom Street, Cape Town City Centre
  • Ndifuna Ukwazi, 18 Roeland Street, Cape Town City Centre
  • Central Fire Station, Roeland Street, Cape Town City Centre

Find the drop-off points on Google Maps

Read more on:    cape town  |  fires

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