Hundreds left homeless after fire sweeps through Imizamo Yethu Informal Settlement, Cape Town
A fire tore through part of the Imizamo Yethu informal settlement in Hout Bay in Cape Town on Sunday night, 26 March 2023, destroying about 60 structures and displacing more than 200 residents. The City of Cape Town Fire and Rescue Service was notified of the fire at approximately 19h10, according to Jermaine Carelse, spokesperson for the service. A total of 18 fire fighting resources and 70 staff were on the scene.
“Just after midnight, the fire was contained and extinguished. However, crews were once again confronted by a volatile crowd blocking access to the fire, with streets being blocked off by residents and personal effects in the roadway leading to the incident,” said Carelse.
“The city’s law enforcement department and the South African Police Service had to be called to stabilise the situation”, he added.
No injuries or fatalities were reported and the cause of the fire is unknown.
Gift of the Givers provided aid to those affected by the fire. Gift of the Givers arrived in Imizamo Yethu on Monday morning to provide aid to the victims. Project manager Ali Sablay said that the fire swept through the settlement’s Madiba Square and estimated that the number of displaced residents was close to 300.
“People are really upset … In the last five years, we’ve been to the same place probably six, seven times, to assist those same people,” he said.
Gift of the Givers provided hot meals, toiletry packs and baby care packs to residents in need, according to Sablay. Clothing is also being provided, as some victims were left with only the clothes they were wearing. “We’ll be here for the next few days, until the documents are registered with [the SA Social Security Agency]. Then they will take over in providing humanitarian aid,” said Sablay.
The affected residents need building materials more than anything else, said Lazola Jobo, whose sister lost her home in the fire. “We’re just waiting for assistance from government … we don’t want money – just give us the material,” he said.
The City of Cape Town said it used to be the only metro in South Africa that provided building materials outside of a declared disaster. However, grant cuts ended the programme more than two years ago. “The city applies to the national disaster authorities to have incidents declared a disaster in order to possibly unlock disaster relief funds from the national government,” it stated. “The city does what it can to provide soft relief, enable humanitarian assistance, clear sites and debris for rebuilding and assist where it can.”
Source: Jermaine Carelse, spokesperson, City of Cape Town Fire and Rescue Service, Daily Maverick
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