Dunoon fire victims start to rebuild homes as processing gets under way

A fire at the weekend left more than 700 people destitute in an informal settlement in Dunoon.

A fire at the weekend left more than 700 people destitute in an informal settlement in Dunoon.

Published Dec 19, 2023


While national government and City assessments that will ensure more than 700 Dunoon community members who have been left destitute receive building materials are under way, some residents have started rebuilding with their damaged materials.

A devastating fire swept through Ethembeni informal settlement on Saturday destroying 258 shacks and seven formal houses.

A total of 702 residents are without a roof over their heads, while a man sustained burn wounds and was transported to a nearby medical facility.

City Fire and Rescue Service spokesperson Jermaine Carelse said they were notified at around 5.30am of shacks burning in Ngena Street.

“Due to the extent of the incident, a total of 14 firefighting resources were on scene with over 50 staff battling the blaze. At around 9.45am, the fire was contained and crews had to contend with some members of the community who interfered with their duties.

Law Enforcement and Metro Police assisted,” said Carelse.

Community leader Simphiwe Bavuma said according to reports the fire may have started while someone was attempting to cook.

“We are devastated because people have lost everything they had saved money for clothes and groceries now all of that is gone. There have been a lot of fires here in the past. The problem is that reblocking is not done so many people get affected when there is fire. Some people salvaged what they could and started rebuilding because they had no place to sleep,” he said.

According to mayco member for human settlements Carl Pophaim, site clearing was ongoing and officials were in constant communication with the affected residents about rebuilding their homes when the area has been cleared of debris.

“The National Department of Human Settlements has committed to assisting with funding for building material after the necessary and required verifications have been completed. The National Department of Human Settlements will be procuring and will deliver the material for the rebuilding of the structures for the verified fire victims as per their recently newly adopted approach of centralising all emergency housing responses in the country. The City is doing its best to expedite the process, as far as its powers allow,” said Pophaim.

National government said it would provide an update on the matter soon. For humanitarian organisation Gift of the Givers, spokesperson, Ali Sablay said the swift response of firefighters averted a major disaster where the whole area would have burnt to ashes due to the density and no reblocking.

“We have assisted with food and we’ll be assisting the community members further once the registration is done with blankets, toiletries, baby care packs, and new clothing.”

Disaster risk management centre’s Sonica Lategan said they also alerted Sassa, the agency responsible for providing humanitarian relief.

Cape Times