The Little Angels Creche is on the rise again after having been torched by angry residents during a protest in Hangberg.
Founder and principal, Liezel Matthews, stood in tears at the time as she watched the creche go up in smoke and was heart-broken to report that many of the donations meant to offer some relief to Hout Bay had also been destroyed.
“I was telling everybody I will recover from this and this creche will rise again. It was not right what happened and how this place was burnt,” she said.
Over the past month workers have been on the site in Karbonkel Road preparing the grounds where containers, sponsored by the City of Cape Town, will be placed.
According to Ms Matthews, who also ran a soup kitchen from the school and used the premises to sort all donations for Hout Bay, the City had offered the containers as a temporary shelter from which she could continue feeding the community.
On Monday evening, the containers were delivered to the site and set up.
“It was so exciting seeing these containers come in. I mean, everybody stood and watched the creche burn and now they can stand and watch the creche being rebuilt,” Ms Matthews said.
The creche was set alight by angry resident questioning why the creche was allowed to remain on a City-owned piece of later which, it was later revealed, had been set aside for a recreational space for Hangberg, something locals refuted.
The City’s Law Enforcement Unit had moved into the area and removed an illegal structure on the same site and residents had assumed Ms Matthews was the whistle-blower, leading to the spotlight being placed on the creche.
“I never ever told the City to come and break down any shack. The people responsible for this were angry and they needed to take it out on something,” Ms Matthews said.
Shameegah Adams from Hangberg said the soup kitchen was a great help and most had felt helpless when they saw it up in flames.
“Some of these households do not even have an income, like me, and I have children to feed. This soup kitchen and all the help that came from the creche actually helped us,” she said.
An unemployed single father of three, Devon Moore, said setting the creche on fire had been “unneccesary” and that the children’s interest should have been placed first.
“Nobody cared about the future of our children when they burned the creche. They also never considered that this was a place helping people who are struggling, like me. It was selfish and I am happy to see it being restored,” Mr Moore said.
Ward councillor Roberto Quintas confirmed that the containers would be used by Little Angels as a kitchen, classroom, ablution block and storage facility.
He explained that the containers were delivered from the City’s depot in Ndabeni and had been donated to the City by contractors who no longer needed them.
“These contractors have already done all the upgrades to the containers and they had no use for them once they left the building site. They then decided to donate it to the City,” he said.
Ms Matthews will be allowed to upgrade and maintain the containers at any stage.
“We are very excited to see what Ms Matthews can do with this opportunity. If down the line she decides to upgrade the space even further and she no longer needs the containers, they will then be delivered back to the City,” Mr Quintas said.