Residents of the Riemvasmaak section of Phumlani Village were rocked by a fire which blazed through the area on Wednesday.
According to City of Cape Town Fire Services spokesperson, Theo Layne, the fire department was called out to the scene after midday. This was confirmed by proportional councillor in the area, Elgan Fortune.
“It was just before 12:30 when one of the residents came to my office and informed me of the fire outside at the informal structures. They informed me that there were structures burning. I went down there and on arrival, there were four structures which were burning,” says Fortune.
He adds that while nobody was injured, residents lost everything they were unable to salvage. With the cause of the fire still being sought, Fortune says the focus is now on relief.
“What happened was that the four structures burnt down. I then made contact with the Informal Settlement Department at the City to ensure that we can provide the people with the basic starter kit,” says Fortune.
Four starter kits were delivered to the families on Wednesday, says Fortune, but he adds that because the City’s Disaster Risk Management no longer takes care of the soft needs such as providing blankets and clothing, it is taking longer for added relief to be carried out.
“It is now done through Sassa. So we are really struggling to get hold of the contact person for Area South. I asked JP Smith to intervene because we have not received any soft relief from Sassa. I have also requested the public to please donate clothes,” Fortune says.
He explains that one of the residents who lost everything in the blaze was fortunate to escape with his life.
“One person I spoke to actually came from night shift and was sleeping when this happened. He managed to get out of his structure in time for him to be safe. That was sad because this guy came out of work and he was sleeping when the fire started,” adds Fortune.
Residents affected by the blaze will now have to obtain new identity documents in order to be able to make use of any welfare grants.
“What I have done is that I know that normally with fires, we need to get a disaster report and provide it to Home Affairs and they will assist you from there. I have gone back to the community to meet with them and see what they have received and what the next step is for them to assist them in terms of getting their IDs back – it is one of the things they need now.”