Fire destroys shacks, man dies

Some of the shack fire victims in Europe busy cleaning their plots. PHOTO: UNATHI OBOSE
Some of the shack fire victims in Europe busy cleaning their plots. PHOTO: UNATHI OBOSE

Europe informal settlement residents in Gugulethu are accussing the City of Cape Town of dragging their feet in providing houses for people in the area.

This comes after a man died in a shack fire in the area early morning on Monday 4 November.

According to the residents, seven shacks were destroyed by the fire. The cause of the fire is still unknown.

One of the victims Phinda Mvumbe said he lost everything. “I was coming from work at about 01:00 and saw huge flames. My shack was already engulfed with flames but, fortunately, my wife and two children managed to escape unharmed,” said Mvumbe.

He said according to his wife they were already sleeping when they heard some noise. People were shouting fire, fire, fire. “She jumped out of bed and grabbed my children and ran. I lost everything including my documents,” he stated. Mvumbe who has been staying in the area for almost 13 years said for them getting new houses is a pipe dream.

“The city officials have been promising us new houses but that never materialised.

“The last meeting that we had with the councillor was in March this year and he also said the same thing.” Mvumbe added that it is not the first time people lost their belongings during a shack fire in that area. “Every year people are losing their belongings in shack fires. This year alone two similar incidents happened in different sections in the area,” he said.

Ward 40 councillor Bongani Ngcombolo said the Southern Corridor Integrated Human Settlement Project is under construction at New Rest area in Gugulethu.

“We are working in phases. We are busy relocating people from New Rest to Mfuleni so that we can build houses. Then we will move people from Kanana informal settlement to Mfuleni.

“Residents from Barcelona will be relocated to the houses that will be built at Kanana. The shack dwellers in Europe will be relocated to the houses that will be constructed in Barcelona and others will stay in Europe,” he stated adding that Barcelona and Europe shack dwellers won’t be relocated to Mfuleni.

Ngcombolo said he understands their anger because the houses have been long overdue.

According to the City’s disaster risk management spokesperson Samuel Freeman there were 12 structures destroyed and one man died.

He said the informal settlement management department provided them with starter kits to rebuild their shacks.

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