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Residents sleeping on the street after Masiphumelele fire destroys homes

South African -Cape Town -28 December 2020 - Mayor of the City of Cape Town Dan Plato donated 1100 mattresses and food boxes to the needy residents of Masiphumelele,who lost everything when a fire burnt down their shacks before Christmas.photograph :Phando Jikelo/African News Agency(ANA)

South African -Cape Town -28 December 2020 - Mayor of the City of Cape Town Dan Plato donated 1100 mattresses and food boxes to the needy residents of Masiphumelele,who lost everything when a fire burnt down their shacks before Christmas.photograph :Phando Jikelo/African News Agency(ANA)

Published Dec 31, 2020

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Cape Town - Frustration is building in Masiphumelele as a number of residents say they have spent two weeks sleeping on the streets with their children.

More than a thousand residents lost their homes and possessions on December 17 when a fire ripped through a large part of the area.

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Residents protested on Tuesday, calling for an update about building structures and food parcels.

Mayor Dan Plato’s spokesperson, Lyndon Khan, said 1 134 food parcels, 1 134 mattresses and 1 134 blankets were distributed on Monday.

“The food parcels, consisting of non-perishable items, are to feed a family of four for two weeks. This is in addition to the generous donations received from the public and organisations distributing relief.”

Khan said community leadership structures approached Plato during his visit on Monday and an update on new developments was provided.

Resident Senzo Nompenge said he was fortunate as relatives nearby were accommodating him and his three children.

“Some people are staying with friends and others with family members. But you can imagine having your family of four and you join your other family of four.

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“On the first day of the fire we slept outside so we know the pain that is being felt by residents who are sleeping outside,” said Nompenge.

He added that the community was becoming impatient due to a lack of communication from authorities.

Pastor John Thomas, the founder and executive director of non-profit organisation Living Hope which has been supporting the Masiphumelele community for several years, said he was aware of two mothers who were sleeping on the pavement with their children, along with other residents.

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“Although we have been overwhelmed with donations, we cannot distribute some (of the items), such as household goods, due to people being homeless.

“We cannot give people mattresses that will be stolen outside. We are calling for an immediate action plan and one that can be implemented urgently,” said Thomas.

Human Settlements Minister Lindiwe Sisulu’s spokesperson, Steven Motale, said they were aware of the protest.

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Motale said at a meeting yesterday with the relevant authorities, Social Development Minister Lindiwe Zulu pledged her department’s commitment to assist affected residents and promised to engage the Solidarity Fund to help ensure the community is provided with food and other basic necessities.

“Minister Sisulu spent two days in Masiphumelele last week engaging community leaders, who embraced her idea of building permanent structures. In this regard, a decision has been taken in consultation with the community that they won’t get starter kits, as the area is prone to fires.

“Ultimately, proper fire-resistant houses will be built and the community understands that these would take longer to build than shacks.

“This project will start as early as next week. In the meantime, the City has been charged with ensuring no shacks are built in Masiphumelele,” said Motale.

Cape Times

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