Fire kills one, leaves residents homeless

More than 15 structures were destroyed by fire that left one person dead in Kanana, Gugulethu, on Monday morning.

A raging inferno killed one person, destroyed more than 15 shacks and displaced about 60 residents in Kanana informal settlement, in Gugulethu on Monday morning.

The City of Cape Town’s fire and rescue spokesperson, Jermaine Carelse, said: “Numerous shacks were on fire. The fire was extinguished at 8.30am and the body of a woman was discovered.”

He said the scene has since been handed over to the police for an investigation.

Angry residents say they have had enough of fires and have demanded to be relocated, or allocated formal houses.

Hours after the blaze, the irate residents made it clear that not another life must be taken by fire or “all hell will break loose” and threatened to shut down the N2.

Nosamkelo Komani and his son said they were willing to relocate to Bosassa or Forest Drive. “I am not sure how long I have been staying here but all I know is that my first child was born here in 1988. You can imagine the years of anguish and pain here. People are dying in fires. There are floods that are also a trauma to us. We have been promised to be relocated but I guess we have been taken for fools here,” she said.

She supports the idea of closing down the N2 in protest of houses. Ms Komani said the government will not listen to them for as long as they do not act-“harshly”.

“The only way to be heard to is to burn things and throw a tantrum,” she said.

”This is a government that listens to rowdy and rude people. We have been long here and we cannot take it any longer.

“I have had it up to here with the Western Cape government,” she said, gesturing to her neck.

While Vukani was still on the scene some residents intended to go and close down the N2. But sanity prevailed, they talked to each other and cooled down.

Ward 40 councillor Bongani Ngcombolo conceded that many of the residents were tired of the fires. He said most people are on the waiting list but “the process is too slow”.

Mr Ngcombolo said there were residents who had been relocated last year and that he had been talking to the Human Settlements MEC Tertius Simmers to speed up the process.

“I have also invited him to come here and see the plight of these people. Shockingly he told me he does not feel safe coming here. But people are frustrated and this is a true frustration,” he said.

Responding to the councillor’s allegations, Human Settlements spokesman, Marcellino Martin, said it was unfortunate that the councillor would make such claims, as no promise or commitment had been made by Mr Simmers or any official in the Western Cape Department of Human Settlements. “MEC Simmers, through his ministerial outreach programme, has been travelling the length and breadth of the Western Cape to engage various stakeholders.

“The councillor is fully aware that the MEC engages with and through relevant structures such as sub-councils and ward, and project steering committees. Upon the finalisation of these engagements a broader community meeting takes place,” he said.