Fire destroys 50 homes in Site C

Zuko Matakane said the fire started in his bedroom but he does not know how.

Khayelitsha’s Site C informal settlement residents tried in vain to save their belongings when a fire spread through the area on Monday January 15, leaving 200 people homeless.

The fire started in the afternoon and destroyed 50 shacks.

Residents say the fire started in one of the shacks and the flames quickly engulfed everything in their path.

When Vukani visited the area on Tuesday, the residents were cleaning up debris and rebuilding their homes.

Resident Zuko Matakane said the fire started in his bedroom.

He said his family had been sitting in the dining room when they noticed smoke coming from the bedroom. Minutes later, the whole house was filled with smoke.

They quickly alerted the neighbours but the fire spread quickly and gave them no chance to save their belongings.

The 38-year-old father of four said he still had no idea what might have caused the fire.

He said he had just bought school stationery for all his children last week and now all of it was destroyed.

However, he said, he was glad that no one had died.

He feels that if they had communal taps in their community the fire could have been doused off quickly and many shacks could have been saved.

“I don’t know where I will get the money to buy the school stationery. I will probably have to go to loan sharks. I’m only left with the clothes that I’m wearing because everything has been burnt, including my ID and children’s birth certificates. I don’t even want to think about this because it just gives me a painful headache.

“This fire has just ruined all my plans and now I will find myself swimming in financial debt, “ he said.

Theo Layne, spokesperson for Fire and Rescue Services, said no injuries were reported and the cause of the fire had not been determined.

Community leader, Lindelwa Sinyonga, said the spaces between the shacks were built too close together, which made i easier for the fire to spread.

She said they have no clue how the fire started but suspect it was due to an electrical fault because the area had illegal electricity connections.

She said the residents had no communal taps and were forced to walk long distances to fetch water.

Another resident, Vusumzi Makaphela, said his three-roomed shack, which he shared with his four children and wife, had been reduced to ashes.

He also could not save anything and he is worried about his children’s stationery for school.

He said he had just returned from the Eastern Cape and now found himself having to rebuild his home.

He did not know where he will get the money to buy the stationery and other important householdsitems.

“The fire gave us no chance to save our things.

I have been living here for 20 years and if government had built us houses none of this would have happened. We want houses so that our living conditions can improve,” he said.