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Cape Town - As she breathed in smoke, the walls around her heating up, she had only enough time to grab her children and run before flames engulfed her shack.
Bongiwe Mabede, a young mother of two, is one of 3 000 people who were forced to abandon their homes after a fire swept through the BM Section of Khayelitsha on New Year’s Day, destroying more than 800 shacks and killing three men.
She is being sheltered at the OR Tambo Hall in Khayelitsha, sharing food and a sleeping space with over 650 people.
“I have lost everything. There is just nothing for me anymore.”
Out at the BM Section of the informal settlement, residents can be seen scouring through the skeletal frames of their old homes.
The City of Cape Town not only has plans to rebuild the area, but is also going to give the informal settlement an upgrade. Mayoral committee member for human settlements Ernest Sonnenberg said plans for upgrading the area had been in the works for a long time.
At the moment, the city’s Informal Settlements Department was working to improve safety measures against fire and floods, and provide access to electricity for all residents.
Sonnenberg urged residents rebuilding their structures to position them at least three metres apart, to make it easier for firefighting vehicles to access the area.
The public has been invited to provide relief to the victims of the fires by making donations. Pick n Pay, which has already donated R20 000 to relief organisations, has set out special trolleys at all their Western Cape stores where shoppers can leave donations of food, clothing and other essentials.
The city has also set up an account for donations from the public.
Name of account holder: City of Cape Town; Financial institution: Absa Bank Ltd; Bank account number: 4056584569 Branch: Public Sector – Western Cape; Branch code: 632005; SWIFT number: ABSAZAJJCCT; Reference number: 192110255