More than 200 displaced after fire rips through Cape Town informal settlement

play article
Subscribers can listen to this article
People have started rebuilding their homes in Imizamo Yethu Informal Settlement, Hout Bay in Cape Town.
People have started rebuilding their homes in Imizamo Yethu Informal Settlement, Hout Bay in Cape Town.
PHOTO: Brenton Geach, Gallo Images
  • At least 60 homes have been destroyed in a fire in a Cape Town informal settlement, leaving around 200 people displaced.
  • Some of those affected also lost their belongings in a fire in the same area last year.
  • Gift of the Givers is providing humanitarian aid to those affected.

More than 200 people have been displaced in a fire that ripped through Imizamo Yethu on Sunday night, destroying around 60 homes.

On Monday, the Gift of the Givers offered humanitarian aid to those affected after it "received frantic calls from the community", said the organisation's operation manager, Ali Sablay.

"Our teams are currently on site distributing hot meals, toiletry packs, baby packs, mattresses and blankets. We will be here for the next few days," he said.

Sablay added that the Imizamo Yethu community was "very frustrated".

"Some of them have been fire victims for the last five to six years. Gift of the Givers alone, in the last five years, has responded to seven disasters in the same section. [We need] a permanent solution for these people."

WATCH | 'It's a dire situation': Hundreds left homeless as blaze rips through Cape Town settlement

Gloria Mtshalu, who lost her home and her belongings in the blaze, was at a neighbour’s home watching TV when the fire broke out. She said her children - aged 23, 19 and 13 - had been at the house, along with a relative's three-year-old twin who she had been looking after.

She said:

We heard people calling: 'Fire, fire!', and realised that it was close to my home. We tried to put it out, but we ran out of water.

"I was going to try to save something, like clothes, but my children were at the house, and I had to get them away from the fire."

Mtshalu said that her home has been gutted.

"You can't even see what was yours and what was your neighbour's. We don't even have food," she said.

Mtshalu has also lost her livelihood, as she used to look after children at her home while their mothers worked.

"How can I make an earning from that if I don't have a place for the children?" she asked.

Some still recovering from last year's fire

Nomatamsanqa Khwatshube, 31, said that she had care for her two children - aged 13 and two - as well as her disabled sister, without a home or belongings.

She said:

I was in Noordhoek and received a call from my sister that there was a fire, and it was very close to my place. They tried to take out some of the stuff.

Khwatshube’s family members were able to save some clothing and her fridge, but the rest of their belongings went up in flames.

This is the second fire Khwatshube has fallen victim to, after her home was destroyed in a blaze last year. She said she has still not been able to replace essential items, like identity documents, that were lost in the first fire.

The fire in September left 500 people homeless and one person dead.

According to ward councillor Rob Quintas, Madiba Square was primarily affected. He added that firefighters had struggled to reach the blaze.

"Unfortunately, the blaze would have been more easily contained, and there would have been much less damage if cars had not been irresponsibly and illegally parked in a manner which limited access for our fire services," he said.

People have started rebuilding their homes after a
People have started rebuilding their homes after at least 60 homes were destroyed in a fire in Imizamo Yethu Informal Settlement, Hout Bay in Cape Town.
Gallo Images PHOTO: Brenton Geach, Gallo Images

City of Cape Town Fire and Rescue Service spokesperson Jermaine Carelse said the fire was contained just after midnight.

No injuries or fatalities were reported.

The cause of the fire was still unknown, said Carelse.

Quintas said the City’s Disaster Risk Management would evaluate the extent of damage and the number of people affected, and advise on services that needed repairing or replacement.

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For 14 free days, you can have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today. Thereafter you will be billed R75 per month. You can cancel anytime and if you cancel within 14 days you won't be billed. 
Subscribe to News24
Show Comments ()
Voting Booth
What's your take on the task team looking into Russian President Vladimir Putin's possible visit to SA in August?
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
I doubt they'll find a legal loophole
24% - 1395 votes
Putin is coming, it's just a formality
76% - 4311 votes
Rand - Dollar
Rand - Pound
Rand - Euro
Rand - Aus dollar
Rand - Yen
Brent Crude
Top 40
All Share
Resource 10
Industrial 25
Financial 15
All JSE data delayed by at least 15 minutes Iress logo
Editorial feedback and complaints

Contact the public editor with feedback for our journalists, complaints, queries or suggestions about articles on News24.