Pregnant Zanele Roneti has no reason to celebrate the start of the new year and the anticipated welcome of her bundle of joy on January 24.
She is among the Philippi residents who are disillusioned and homeless after a fire left more than 500 families living in the Nyhunyhwini or Graveyard informal settlement, homeless.
An estimated 100 shacks were destroyed after a fire ripped the settlement last Wednesday. For her and others, their misery was multiplied when they were told the City of Cape Town could not provide them with material to rebuild their homes.
Due to the national government budget cuts, the City said it was no longer able to provide fire and flood kits to residents outside declared disaster areas.
In addition to this, the families have had to sleep outside as community centres and halls are closed in line with Covid-19 protocols.
“We are in a quagmire here. I lost everything. Everything burnt down. I am going to labour on January 24 and I have nothing. Even the little that I bought for my coming baby burnt in the shack,” Ms Roneti told Vukani.
When Vukani visited the area, many were trying to rebuild their shacks with the sheets of burnt corrugated iron.
Ms Roneti said when the fire broke out she hadn’t been home. She is currently sleeping at her sister’s place in Nyanga.
“The situation that we are in is bad. Some are sleeping outside because they have no relatives around here. There are those who ran to Khayelitsha to their close families.
“I am fortunate that my sister is in Nyanga. But even so, she cannot afford to buy me what I lost here. I do not know what to do now because I am not working. I am left with the clothes that I am wearing,” she said.
According to the local leader Mandla Wonka, the incident happened around midday, and while it has not been confirmed, many residents believe the fire was caused by an electrical fault during load shedding.
“People lost everything in the fire. We do not know what to do. There are residents who are still on holiday in their different parts of the world. They will come back and find out they have nothing and no place to live. The City has to take a blame for this. It has promised people houses a while ago in fact years ago but until today people are in shacks,” he said.
He added that it was unfortunate that the City was unable to provide those who had lost their homes, with starter kits so they could start rebuilding.
“This is bad for this community. There is nothing we can do if our municipality is not helping by building us houses. The halls are also closed for people to hide their heads in the meantime. But we shall see how we get out of this,” he told Vukani.