Leaders plead for help for fire victims

Human Settlements, Water and Sanitation minister Lindiwe Sisulu and Human Settlements MEC Tertius Simmers address the leaders of Site C.

Human Settlements, Water and Sanitation minister, Lindiwe Sisulu held a four-hour meeting with the leaders of Site C to reassure them that her department was working tirelessly to provide the necessary intervention and to help the victims of the fire at Taiwan informal settlement.

The meeting was held at Khayelitsha Training Centre last Thursday.

The meeting was attended by representatives of Khayelitsha and Masiphumelele where residents had been devastated by recent fires.

Human Settlements MEC Tertius Simmers and mayoral committee member for human settlements Melusi Booi were among the officials who also attended the meeting along with stakeholders from Khayelitsha and community leaders representing Masiphumelele near Fish Hoek.

A week ago, a fire in Site C destroyed 149 shacks and 11 RDP houses, leaving about 300 residents homeless.

Ms Sisulu informed the leaders that the area had been declared as a disaster area so that the resources could easily be made available.

She also spoke about the devastating fire that swept through Masiphumelele late last month leaving thousands homeless.

She explained that because the area had been declared a disaster, funds for relief efforts could be made available more quickly. They are currently busy trying to rebuild the homes of the victims and providing other necessary help, she added.

Therefore, she said, she wanted to follow the same steps they had taken when attending the issues of Masiphumelele as they address this matter of Taiwan.

She said her department would provide R157 million to the provincial department of human settlements and R127 million out of that money would go to Masiphumelele while the rest would be allocated to Taiwan.

“We want to speed up this process as soon as possible. It is not a good sight to see people sleeping outside with children. Now that the national department has made the funds available, the rest lies with the MEC and mayco member as they deal with the implementation process.

“But I urged the leaders to raise any issues they might have with us before protesting.

“There is always a way to express your concerns and we have done the best we could,” she said.

Site C community leader, Sibusiso Mdlankomo, expressed his disappointment that the department had not presented a detailed plan of intervention and pleaded with the minister and MEC to assist the victims with rebuilding material while they were still busy with the planning process.

He said these families had been sleeping outside since the day their shacks were burnt down and were using braziers to keep themselves warm at night.

He urged the leaders to respond quickly and pleaded with the minister to prioritise the area for housing development. He said the area is one of the oldest and largest informal settlements in Khayelitsha but it had seen little development.

“Ever since the area was established not even a single family has been moved to a decent home. People have lost faith in many development projects because they do not yield the desired outcomes,” he said.

Mr Booi said before the end the week they would be able to provide them with start-up kits and promised to ensure they had access to water.

He also grabbed the opportunity to urge the community not to illegally occupy vacant land as it negatively impacted development plans.