Picture: Ayanda Ndamane African News Agency (ANA)
Cape Town - Thirteen years after the 2005 Langa fire, thousands of displaced victims still remain in the fenced temporary relocation area, awaiting formal housing.

More than 8000 people were affected by the fire which saw one infant die and another left brain dead. An estimated 1500 structures were razed when a fire ravaged zones 18, 24, 25, 26, 27, 30 and 32, having started in the Joe Slovo informal settlement.

Now, mother of two Sindi Kethani, 44, has told Weekend Argus that though some people have been moved in dribs and drabs, the process to have them relocated to permanent homes seems like a far-fetched dream.

“First, we were moved to tents at the two schools, Zimasa and Isilimela. Because of heavy rains we were then moved to community halls before these houses were put up in October.

“Since then, we have been here and the government has neglected us, I feel.

“We have been staying here for 13 years. These houses they gave us are now dilapidated because they were never meant for permanent residency, but we are always told that there are no specific housing projects for us.

“We have to be accommodated along with everyone else as and when the time comes,” she said

“That is just sad because we did not ask to be fire victims. Our government does not seem to care about us.”

Meanwhile, 53-year-old Minnie Oliphant has been living in the relocation camp made up of rows of corrugated iron, known as Blikkiesdorp, along Symphony Way near Delft.

The area is just two years younger than Intersite in Langa but residents here also believe they will not live to see a better home.

Picture: Ayanda Ndamane African News Agency (ANA)


Blikkiesdorp was created to accommodate people awaiting formal housing. The structure each house between five and 15 people.

“We have lost all hope, man, we don’t even care any more.

“When we came here I was living with my daughter, son and one grandchild. Now there are three more children and there is no space here,” said Oliphant.

“Families grow every day but nothing is done to help us get away from here,” she added, as she continued to do her laundry in a small plastic basin at the front of her corrugated iron home.

There are 1535 houses in Blikkiesdorp and only 122 families have since been moved to formal housing.

City of Cape Town media manager Luthando Tyhalibongo said: “A temporary relocation area (TRA) is a site developed in terms of the Emergency Housing Programme, or prior to the roll-out of a housing project where households are accommodated in prefabricated shelters on a temporary basis, and have access to basic municipal services on a shared basis.”

However, Kethani and her neighbours feel that they have been left on the Intersite TRA for far too long.

The City of Cape Town has seven TRAs. Others in the city include, Wolwerivier, which was established in 2015 in response to families being removed from a city-owned landfill site.

Mew Way in Khayelitsha was established in 2013 with approximately 850 dwellings as a result of shack fires, and N2 gateway in Delft as a response to a housing roll-out plan.

According to Ntomboxolo Somdaka, spokesperson for Human Settlements MEC Bonginkosi Madikizela: “The current housing backlog is estimated at 600000.”

Weekend Argus