Cape Town - Less than a month after a fire gutted shacks at Thabo Mbeki informal settlement in Philippi East on the first day of the year and displaced more than 80 people, another fire erupted on Sunday evening and left more than 20 people homeless.
Community leader Buzwe Kali said 11 structures were destroyed after one of the community members, who was cooking at the time, left a stove unattended.
Kali said this occurred while they were still seeking assistance for those whose shacks burnt down on New Year’s Day.
“While we cannot say for sure that the quality of the cables used to extend our electricity supply coupled with negligence from some community members are the causes, we have however established that electricity faults had been the main cause of most shack fires that erupted in the area.
“It is common sense that in such an informal settlement one cannot leave a stove or anything that might cause fire unattended; however, some disregard this. On the other hand, it might seem as if fires do start any time and are unforeseen. We have had instances where the cables would just burn out of the blue and this becomes more dangerous when the shack is unattended,” he said.
“Some of the victims have not rebuilt their shack because they still lack building material and only one or two people manage to save their belongings when this happened. This also happened while we are just three days away from schools being reopened and kids' uniforms and stationery have been destroyed in the fire.”
Kali said with the shacks situated at the back of the area and with the congestion and the wind, more shacks burnt as the fire services struggled to navigate through them.
City’s Fire and Rescue Services spokesperson Jermaine Carelse said a call was received at 5.34pm of structures alight, and fire crews from Lansdowne, Belhar, Roeland Street, Kuils River and Mitchells Plain were dispatched to the scene.
Carelse said the fire was extinguished at 7.07pm and there were no injuries reported.
Kali said a long-term solution to the problem in the area was the provision of formal housing.
He said he was hopeful that, while on a visit in the province, Human Settlements’ Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi and her deputy Pam Tshwete would address the housing backlog in the province.