Browns Farm fire victims still in limbo
Cape Town - Almost a week after a fire ravaged shacks in Browns Farm, Philippi, leaving more than 250 people stranded, the victims are yet to receive assistance to rebuild their homes.
Project Uluvo, a local NGO that conducted an assessment in the area, said the people had nowhere to go as the City had not distributed disaster relief packs which include building materials, while its community halls are not allowed to be used. The organisation said this has left the 255 individuals out in the cold.
Phindile George from Project Uluvo said the community had left the victims fending for themselves and relying on community structures.
“We are calling on those who can physically volunteer to assist to join hands with us to assist. The City no longer distributes disaster packs and so those affected don't have new material to rebuild. To make matters worse, the City in observing the Covid-19 protocols has closed their community halls for meetings on any activities.
“However, this is not a meeting but an emergency, which is why we are pleading with them to open some of the halls and at least accommodate a few based on priority groups, while regulations are followed,” he said.
George said communities had been left to fend for themselves and were assisted by local organisations that did not budget for such disasters.
“We are looking to engage with the City on the matter to make them aware, because we cannot allow people to sleep outside in an area with rampant rapes,” he said.
Ward councillor Fikiswa Kunzana said only the local organisations have come out to assist in terms of food and clothing, including beds for the elderly and for pregnant women.
“The City attempted to look for alternative accommodation at the local school halls and churches, but because of Covid-19 protocols to be followed, this did not succeed. Consequently, some are sleeping outside, others with their relatives, while others have been forced to start rebuilding with the burnt and damaged materials.
“I am, however, not happy with the rebuilding, because the place is uninhabitable.These people have been staying in a wetland and for 20 years they have been without basic services like water and electricity or proper roads. There is a need for a permanent solution which includes allocating them to other safer areas,” she said.
The City said it was looking into the situation.