Fire destroys about 30 households in Khayelitsha

Another devastating fire has left 121 people in Khayelitsha homeless.

Residents of Tsepe-Tsepe informal settlement in Khayelitsha say that a faulty electric box in one of the households was the cause of the fire that destroyed 30 shacks, leaving over 100 people homeless. Unlike the Blowey informal settlement fire of last month that started in the early hours of the morning, the fire in Tsepe-Tsepe was sparked around midday on Tuesday.

According to Nomama Booi, a Tsepe-Tsepe resident, the fire was started after a visitor to her home plugged in a kettle, sparking a fire that turned to flames instantly. “This incident happened in my absence; it seems like there was a problem with the electric wires” said the 53-year-old. She has lost everything, including important documents such as ID cards, bank cards, cell phones and cash.  “We are only left with the clothes we are wearing. We lost everything including the clothes for children to wear on Christmas Day that we bought during the Black Friday specials,” she said.

According to Nkululeko Makhangela a member of Neighbourhood Watch, Tsepe-Tsepe was established, mostly by backyarders from the D section of Khayelitsha, in the early 90s. “The area was bushy and we had to cut down the trees so that we could build our shacks,” he said.

“The fire started when most people were at work or out looking for jobs so there was no one to put the fire out,” said Nkosemntu Zenze, a 48-year-old resident. Zenze said that being among the first people to move into the area, he has seen no improvements. The toilets are always blocked and are filthy but that only seems to matter when politicians want their vote.

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Ward 92 councillor Xolisa Peter agreed that she receives many complaints about the toilets in Tsepe-Tsepe. “The main complaints are that the toilets are always blocked and are not cleaned regularly. The problem that the City of Cape Town had was it was looking for a service provider to administer inoculations to the cleaners and now that is done, we are told that there are no cleaning materials,” she said.

When Elitsha visited Tsepe-Tsepe, solid waste trucks were cleaning the area while some people were already starting to build their shacks. “The Human Settlement department of City of Cape Town has promised that it will help the victims with housing kits and that is expected to start today [Wednesday],” said Peter.

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