PICS | 'Where do we go now?' Cape Town residents pick up pieces after fire gutted 103 homes

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Gift of the Givers organisation handed out hot foods to the community of Overcome Heights.
Gift of the Givers organisation handed out hot foods to the community of Overcome Heights.
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  • A devastating fire ripped through Overcome Heights informal settlement in Seawind, Cape Town, at the weekend.
  • The blaze destroyed 103 structures, leaving 263 people homeless.
  • The fire destroyed critical infrastructure including electricity poles, chemical toilets, and water taps.   

A devastating fire ripped through the Overcome Heights informal settlement in Seawind, Cape Town, on Saturday destroying more than 100 homes and leaving scores of people homeless.

Jermaine Carelse, spokesperson for the City's Fire and Rescue Service said their teams received the emergency call about 21:40 on Saturday night.

"Firefighters from Lakeside fire station were first on the scene in St Patrick's Avenue. Upon arrival, they found several homes on fire and additional resources were requested," Carelse added.

fire
Residents queue for aid.

According to the City's Disaster Risk Management team, officials have completed their assessment in the area.

Spokesperson Charlotte Powell said the blaze destroyed 103 structures, leaving 263 people affected.

PICS | Fire destroys about 100 homes in Cape Town

"Various City services are on-site to restore basic services as the blaze destroyed critical infrastructure including electricity poles, chemical toilets, and water taps,'' said Powell.

fire
A devastating blaze that ripped through Seawinds, Cape Town, on Saturday night.

Local resident, Thembakazi Yaphi, 47, said she's been living in the informal settlement for over 18 years and is devastated and "heartbroken" that she was unable to save any of her belongings.

"My five kids and I had nowhere to go last night, we stayed here in the informal settlement and were given blankets for the night.We tried to use sheets to cover us from the cold, but it didn't help much. It's not nice to live like this," an emotional Yaphi said.

Informal settlement
Residents of the Overcome Heights in Seawinds were left heartbroken after a devastating fire.

According to Yaphi, she and her kids will continue to live in the area where their house burnt down as they don’t have anywhere else to go.

Another residents said they have no other option but to stay near their burnt-out homes.

READ | UCT fire: Students grab belongings and flee

"What must we do now? We've lost everything. The only thing we can do is try and rebuild our home since we have nowhere else to go," said Adrian Classen.

Classen, 42, said he wasn't at home when the fire broke out. But when he came home and saw the aftermath of the fire, he couldn't believe his eyes. He said:

When I left my home, I had no idea that when I will come back there would be nothing for me to come back to, everything inside my home is gone.

Community leader Fouzie Cassiem said they are very, "...unhappy and frustrated because there is a lot of people that already don't work, that is now homeless as well.

"National government should provide funds to local government so that they can issue housing starter packs for the people," Cassiem added.

According to Cassiem the Western Cape local government is providing each person whose house burnt to the ground with R700 to rebuild their homes.

"Who can put up a place with R700? A person's roof is more important than that little money. People are struggling we are pleading to the government to please assist our people," said Cassiem. 

Meanwhile, Gift of the Givers and Living Hope is providing humanitarian assistance to those affected.

fire
A girl tries to pick up her badly burnt jacket she spotted in the rubble.

Operations Manager Ali Sablay said the organisations were contacted by concerned members of the community pleading for assistance.

"Our team arrived with hot meals for the community on Sunday, upon arrival there were a lot of young children and elderly people in the cold in need of assistance. Some of the people needed to take their medication," said Sablay.

The organisation said they would be assisting the community for the next three to four days with food, Covid-19 care packs, water, and whatever else may be needed during this time.

informal settlement
Gift of the Givers have been providing covid relief care packs to residents of the Overcome Heights informal settlement

"We will be providing blankets, sleeping bags and mattresses to these residents as some of them are staying with neighbours," said Sablay,

Sablay stated that after the four days the organisation would be doing assessments and having meetings with relevant authorities to see how they can make sure people get back to their "normal lives".

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