A bleak start to the year

Zam Nkhola suspects an electrical fault was the cause of the fire that ravaged Never Never.

With schools opening next week and most people recovering from end-of-the-year expenses, Never Never informal settlement residents, in Philippi, will be forced to dig even deeper into their pockets after their homes were ravaged by fire on Sunday morning, January 7.

No injuries were reported, however, residents suffered massive losses and several people were left homeless.

While it is still unclear how the fire started, there are suspicions that it was caused by an electrical fault.

Residents were working hard to rebuild their structures by midday on Sunday.

Nosakhele Jolingwale’s shack was burnt on one side and she complained that she did not get a rebuilding starter kit from the City.

Another woman who claimed to have lost everything in the fire, appealed to the government to bring services closer to the people.

The woman, who only identified herself as Nokwakha, said she was left with only the clothing she was wearing.

She said it would be good if the government could bring Home Affairs and Social Development services to the community. “Most people are unemployed. People will have to (apply for) identity documents and other necessary documents. It will be wise if we can be provided with such important services,” she said.

Xolani Saka, who also lost his shack in the fire, says he doesn’t know how his family will survive as they have to also attend to the children’s school needs.

“It’s very difficult because we are at the beginning of the year. We came out of spending big money and now we are faced with this problem. It is going to be tougher. We cannot focus on what caused the fire now. That is water under bridge. We are now faced with how we can go forward,” he told Vukani.

He too said all he could save were the clothes on his back.

According to residents and community worker, Nowethu Sawutana, many homeowners were still on holiday in the Eastern Cape and other parts of the country when the fire broke out.

She said they had to rush back to rebuild their shacks.

“Many of them were still back home. But we have registered them with the City of Cape Town so they can receive the starter kits. We are grateful that the City hurried to provided assistance in the form of kits although it was not enough. Some families had big shacks. But that is better than nothing. We were shocked with their quick response. But it is appreciated. Another challenge is that of people losing their identity documents,” she said.

Spokesperson for City of Cape Town’s Fire and Rescue Service, Theo Layne, said they responded to the fire at 5.30am. He said approximately 150 people were left homeless. “The cause of the fire is undetermined,” he said.