The Gift of the Givers and the Deputy Minister of Rural Development and Land Reform, Mcebisi Sikhwatsha spent Wednesday October 26 at the Kanana informal settlements, distributing essential items, like food parcels, clothing and warm blankets to the local community who are recovering from the recent fires.
Many residents of the informal settlement in Gugulethu lost clothes, personal belongings and essential groceries when a devastating fire swept through the area on the night of Tuesday October 25.
So last Wednesday the humanitarian organisation responded to the affected community with relief efforts after initial assessments were done in the area. The two parties combined to distribute food aid and other essential interventions to help them rebuild their lives.
Ali Sablay of Gift of the Givers, said they had responded to a call from the minister, the community and the local councillor.
“We had to intervene because we did not have food. Our team had to quickly prepare and deliver to the community mattresses, food parcels, blankets and hygiene packs. Upon our staff arrival, the community was happy and we are also happy to lend help where we can,” said Mr Sablay.
Speaking at the site of the incident, Mr Skwatsha said even though he condemned the act of the culprit – allegedly a jealous man who had started the fire, residents should remain calm and not try to find the man.
“I am aware of the situation here. As I was driving back from work last night I saw the big fire. And I knew that must be something bad for the community. I am shocked to hear that it was caused by a jealous man who did not want to separate with his girlfriend. How can he do that, torching the whole community for love,” he said.
He added that the residents should not make it their responsibility to punish the man but allow the law to run its course.
“I am glad that organisations like the Gift of the Givers responded to our call. In the meantime let us use what we have until we find a solution for houses. The aid that the organisation brought is not going to last you long especially food but a half of bread is better than nothing,” he said.
Angry residents called on the eradication of informal settlements and asked Mr Skwatsha to call the national minister of human settlements, Mmamoloko “Nkhensani” Kubayi, to intervene, which Mr Skwatsha agreed to do.
The African National Congress local branch secretary Olwethu Tshengule said it would be wise for the national minister to take over responsibility for the housing project in Kanana.
Jermaine Carelse, spokesperson for the City’s Fire and Rescue Service said the emergency call about the fire had been received at about 9.23pm on Tuesday October 25. “Lansdowne, Gugulethu, Epping, Ottery and Mitchell’s Plain crews were on the scene with seven firefighting appliances and 28 staff battling the blaze. A total of 17 structures were destroyed leaving a number of persons displaced,” he said.
He added that the cause of the fire was still unknown to the City.