Children die in devastating Kraaifontein shack fire

Family pleads for help to bury Akhanani and Ayola Bulani

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Residents of an informal settlement in Wallacedene in Kraaifontein clear the charred debris after a fire killed two children and left 30 people homeless on Sunday morning. Photo: Nombulelo Damba-Hendrik

A brother and sister died when the shack they were sleeping in burnt down in Kraaifontein, Cape Town on Sunday. The fire left about 30 people homeless.

The children’s uncle, Sandile Bulani, told GroundUp that Akhanani and Ayola Bulani, aged six and one, were home alone when the fire started early on Sunday morning. He said their mother was attending an initiation school celebration at the neighbour’s house.

“One of the neighbours told us that he saw smoke and called for help. He kicked down the door, but they could not save the kids because the fire was already too much.”

Bulani said the mother, who is a single parent, is traumatised. “My sister is unemployed and now must prepare for a funeral. Officials who were here told us to prepare R2,800 for a DNA test. Money we don’t have,” he said.

Community leader Nosiphiwo Tommie has blamed loadshedding for the fire. “The electricity always comes back very strong and burns things. This is not the first incident in area 14. A house was destroyed by fire and it was also when the electricity came back on,” she said.

Tommie said people were struggling to get materials because the City no longer provides emergency kits to rebuild shacks. “One zinc sheet costs R300 and most people had four-roomed shacks. Some are unemployed like this family and won’t have money to rebuild,” she said.

Fire victims in Strand are still battling to rebuild their homes after a fire killed one man and burned down 20 homes last week. Disaster Risk Management spokesperson Charlotte Powell said SASSA had been informed to provide humanitarian assistance. But residents said they had to sleep outside for three days. GroundUp confirmed that food was eventually provided to affected families for two days.

For years the City of Cape Town has been assisting fire victims with building material which usually included six zinc sheets and ten poles.

But Mayoral Committee Member for Human Settlements Councillor Malusi Booi said the City stopped last year due to budget cuts from the national government. Booi urged the national government to reintroduce grant funding so that relief kits can again be provided to fire victims.

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TOPICS:  Housing

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