ANCYL to help Valhalla fire victims

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IOL gallery Valhalla Park Fire5683

David Ritchie

The community help each other to evacuate as a devastating blaze closes in around them. Picture: David Ritchie/Cape Argus

Cape Town - The ANC Youth League in the Western Cape will set up a committee to help those affected by the Valhalla Park informal settlement fire in Cape Town, it said on Tuesday.

ANCYL convenor Muhammad Khalid Sayed said he and provincial ANC head Marius Fransman led a delegation to the area on Tuesday and saw the need for a resident-led committee.

“People are going to elect the committee. This committee will be working with us to solve the issues, ensuring houses are built,” he said.

“It goes beyond just the disaster management. It will also focus on long-term problems such as water, sanitation and electricity.”

Another function of the committee would be to ensure that the disaster risk management centre was performing its role and that it was well-resourced.

Residents and other parties planned to meet at the Beauvallon Secondary School on Friday morning to elect committee members.

The fire on Monday morning destroyed around 350 corrugated iron houses and eight council rental units, leaving around 1500 homeless.

Safety and security mayoral committee member Jean-Pierre Smith said 23 people, including nine fire-fighters, were treated for smoke inhalation.

The city had arranged with its insurers to start emergency repair work.

The disaster site would be cleared later on Tuesday. On Thursday, engineers would start surveying the land and marking out plots.

“This process will include the implementation of fire breaks, installation of water points, safe electricity connections and other basic municipal services,” Smith said.

“The city intends rebuilding the fire victims' homes during the course of the next week, using enhanced building kits.”

After visiting the area, Sayed said the situation was a “complete conundrum” because residents had told him a gang shooting had taken place in the area as the fire raged.

“There's a compounding problem here,” he said.

Residents had told the delegation that many of their children's school uniforms had been lost in the fire.

Sayed said they planned to make sure new uniforms were available. The number of children affected by these losses would be available at a later stage.

The local community hall had been opened to provide emergency shelter and a Christmas day lunch would be held for those affected.

The public could donate fresh or tinned food, blankets, personal hygiene products and household contents. These donations could be dropped off at the nearest fire station or at the Nooitgedacht Civic Centre in Valhalla Park.

Smith urged residents to be responsible when using electrical appliances and to exercise caution with open flames.


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