Fear of repeat disaster for rehousedfire victims

Khayelitsha families waiting years for homes, with no end in sight, are building extensions

Photo of temporary homes
Temporary homes next to OR Tambo Hall in Khayelitsha. Photo: Nombulelo Damba-Hendrik

Victims of the 2013 New Year’s Eve fire in BM informal settlement in Khayelitsha, who were relocated next to OR Tambo Hall, are extending their temporary homes, because it may be years before they receive houses.

Close to 800 households from Site B lost their homes in the 2013 fire that left three dead.

Now, Ward 98 councillor Monde Nqulwana says he has given people permission to extend their temporary homes. He said the houses along Mew Way were too small for families.

“We are talking about six by three metres here,” he said.

He said people only accepted the temporary structures because they were promised, they were going to be moved to Mfuleni within six months.

“As we speak, there is no plan to move them and there is no talk from the City of Cape Town about moving them,” said Nqulwana.

A community leader, who asked to remain anonymous, said the fact that electricity had been installed indicated to him that they would not be going anywhere anytime soon.

However, the extensions were creating a problem, he said. “My fear is that now that people are extending houses, they are going to close all access to the area and we might find ourselves in a bad situation just like in 2013.”

When GroundUp visited the area two families were busy extending their homes, adding another room in front of the temporary house. Material had been delivered and neighbours were planning to combine their shacks closing the passageway between them.

City’s Mayoral Committee Member for Human Settlements Councillor Benedicta van Minnen said the BM fire victims had been allocated 792 homes in the Bosasa housing development in Mfuleni. However, the development was halted last year due to continual violent protest action, vandalism and the destruction of housing units by members of the Mfuleni community.

Van Minnen said the City has been in consultation with the ward councillor and the community leadership regarding extensions that are going up without approval from the Informal Settlements Management Department.

GroundUp reported on the stoppage at Bosasa in February.

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