There's just depression left here – Valhalla Park resident following blaze

2017-12-29 08:07
Christina Davids standing with a copy of Die Burger which featured the medal she discovered under an iron sheet. (James de Villiers, News24)

Christina Davids standing with a copy of Die Burger which featured the medal she discovered under an iron sheet. (James de Villiers, News24)

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Cape Town – "We are depressed – there is just depression left here," Audrey-Ann Gamber, 49, says standing next to the empty plot of land in Valhalla Park where her corrugated iron home once stood.

"Here are looters. As we try to rebuild we must look after our stuff as well. It's tiring."

Gamber is one of an estimated 600 people rebuilding their lives after a blaze destroyed roughly 120 structures in the community early on Tuesday morning – hours after Christmas Day. 

She points to where she lay asleep when she was woken up by banging on the walls of her corrugated iron home. 

"You didn't think – you just ran. And we should be grateful, it could've been much worse. Luckily there are no skulls lying around here," Gamber says, frowning. 

"We must thank God for that."

Metres from where Gamber's family is putting up another dwelling out of timber and iron sheets supplied by the City of Cape Town, Christina Davids is still searching for remnants of her possessions. 

Read: Capetonians' 'excellent hearts' keep donations coming after Valhalla Park fire

"I am not doing it for myself but for my 16-year-old daughter," Davids, 49, explains. 

"She has nothing to remember her school days [by]. All her medals, all her certificates – gone."

Davids smiles, thinking of her daughter's half-melted medal that she found under an iron sheet following the blaze. 

"It's not the material possessions I'll miss, but the memories."

'We will start over again'

Davids explains that she had little time to grab any possessions because most residents mistook the fire for gang crossfire.

"We didn't go out, but only after a neighbour checked who was being shot at we realised that it's time to run," Davids says rubbing her eyes, which are still sore from smoke of the fire.

However, it soon dawned on a panicking Davids that there was no way she could save any of her possessions because a neighbour had restricted access to their section of the area by blocking off an alley after he was shot in a gang shooting.

Audrey-Ann Gamber next to the empty piece of land where her home used to stand. (James de Villiers, News24)

While the City of Cape Town, with the help of its non-profit partner Mustadafin Foundation, has been supplying residents with food, clothes and building materials, it will take years for families to rebuild their lives.

Until then, Davids, a Rastafarian, says it's best to take things day by day. 

"We (Rastafarians) don't believe in vanity: if it has to burn it must burn down – we will only start over again."

Read more on:    cape town  |  fires

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