Residents irked by delay in handouts

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memorial CT CAPE TIMES These women were among 600 people at memorial service at the OR Tambo Hall in Khayelitsha. The buckets contain food provided to families affected by the fire in BM Section. Photo: Jeffrey Abrahams

Cape Town - A row has broken out between the City of Cape Town and Khayelitsha residents over donations meant for families left destitute when they lost their homes in a fire on New Year’s Day.

The city’s disaster risk management team said they had been handling the donations for the safety and well-being of the residents.

Many of the 3 000 people who lost their homes in the devastating fire that tore through BM Section are being accommodated in the OR Tambo Hall.

As donations arrive, the city’s Disaster Risk Management team collect them, with the aim of distributing them as needed.

However, some of the displaced people said they had not been receiving them, resulting in tension among city officials, residents and donors.

Welcome Batya, a displaced resident co-ordinating the process, said when his group received bulk donations, the Disaster Risk Management team would “come in and take control”.

“The problem is the people wanted to distribute it, but they can’t. People were angry and the situation was out of control,” he said.

Batya said a meeting had to be called to calm residents, who were angry that Disaster Risk Management had not been handing out the donations.

“They started taking it on Thursday – but then they don’t distribute it.’’

Batya said people were wearing dirty clothes although clothing had been donated.

Disaster Risk Management’s Wilfred Solomons-Johannes said the team had been receiving huge consignments that needed to be “tested” before distribution. While they were grateful for the donations, they had received expired food before. “This is not a dumping ground for people’s old rubbish that they can’t sell.”

Solomons-Johannes said donations would be handed out when people began moving back to their sites. Also, the number of people in the hall fluctuated and many people staying there were not victims.

Auriel September, from the Helderberg Arch Deaconry Youth Anglican Church, said the church wished to hand over donations for babies, but was concerned they would not be distributed.

Batya said the babies were a big concern because they needed supplies.

He said the matter of the donations was putting co-ordinators under pressure because the residents believed they had “a deal” with the city.

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Cape Argus

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