Non-profits are appealing for public support in their efforts to aid almost 300 people left homeless by the latest fire to sweep through Imizamo Yethu.
The fire department got the call just after 2pm on Sunday and the blaze was contained after midnight, but it destroyed 60 shacks and left 200 people homeless, according to City Fire and Rescue Service spokesman Jermaine Carelse.
Thula Thula Hout Bay, a non-profit, which is registering fire victims for aid, says the number of people displaced by the fire stands at 277.
Hout Bay police station commander Lieutenant Colonel Jerome Syster said he was informed about the fire at 7.30pm. “The fire trucks struggled to get to the fire because of the narrow streets as vehicles are parked in the road,” he said.
Ward councillor Roberto Quintas said the fire could have been contained sooner and caused less damage if the fire trucks had not been blocked by illegally parked cars.
City teams had visited the site on Monday to evaluate the extent of the damage, he said, thanking non-profit organisations Thula Thula Hout Bay and the Angel Network, for supplying basic necessities to the fire victims.
Thula Thula Hout Bay co-founder Nosiseko Siswana said their biggest expense was for groceries and toiletries, and donations – including clothes, nappies, dry goods food, blankets and building materials – would be greatly appreciated. Information on how to help is available on the organisation’s Facebook Page.
Some of the residents had lost their homes in the fire of September last year and had not yet recovered, Ms Siswana said.
Terri Marks, from the The Angel Network, said they had given money to help the fire victims and would also give clothing and toiletries.
Gift of the Givers spokesman Ali Sablay said they would be at the site all week providing hot meals, but the victims needed building materials more than anything else.
“People are really upset. In the last five years, we’ve been through about seven fires to assist those same people and they still don’t have their IDs. The community leaders have been supportive and all know our staff by their first names because they got so used to our teams coming to assist.”
The frequency of fires in Imizamo Yethu was traumatising children, he said.
“I was speaking to the mom of a 7-year-old child who gets hysterical when they hear something burst or exploding and run outside. Other parents are struggling to put their children to sleep at night because they are scared of fire.”
Each fire dealt a financial blow to the City as it had to repair sewerage, water and electricity infrastructure, he said, adding, “There is a solution. There is a lot of land available. It’s just for people to come together and provide these people with permanent accommodation. Not this accommodation that’s inhumane and where, in a split second, lives can be lost and people’s whole livelihoods destroyed.”
Mr Sablay said they were going through the list of those in need to see if there were any matric pupils. “We don’t want to dampen this important year.”
They need donations of school uniforms, stationery, toiletry packs and building materials.
The City of Cape Town said a statement that it used to be the only metro in South Africa that provided building materials outside of a declared disaster, but due to grant cuts, it ended the programme more than two years ago.
Contact Thula Thula Hout Bay at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 082 325 7520 if you can help. Or call 0800 786 911 for Gift of the Givers.