Vrygrond fire victims struggle to rebuild

City says nearly 300 families have received rebuilding kits

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Photo of man building
Thembinkosi Keuuti repairs old zinc sheets to use to rebuild his shack in Overcome Heights, Vrygrond. He has not yet received a building kit from the city. Photo: Bernard Chiguvare

Victims of the fire in Overcome Heights informal settlement in Vrygrond are struggling to rebuild their shacks with some saying they have had to spend their own money on building materials.

Over 300 homes were burnt and over 800 people were displaced after the fire broke out on 25 October. Some of the victims complained that the City had taken too long to distribute building material.

Zoliswa Qoma received building material on Wednesday but is struggling to reconstruct. “I cannot leave my material unattended to go collect food because it gets stolen,” said Qoma.

When GroundUp visited Overcome Heights on Thursday morning most people were still rebuilding the shacks while one family said it has not yet received building material.

“I don’t know when I am going to receive my own material. Everytime they come they tell me to wait. Since my shack was destroyed I have been sleeping outside in the cold,” said Thembinkosi Keuuti, who lost food supplies and furniture during the fire. “I now have decided to send my wife to go and stay with a relative in Masiphumelele while I try to rebuild my shack from the old material.” He is unemployed and has no money to buy material and food.

Another victim Thembisa Nduku said her shack was previously divided into five rooms but has been reduced to four.

“The material supplied is not enough so I had to buy more material. I need my children to enjoy the space they used to have. At the moment I have completed only two rooms. I received this material two days ago,” said Nduku. She has been missing work this week while trying to put up her shack.

According to City of Cape Town media manager Luthando Tyhalibongo, the City started delivering building kits to registered fire victims on 27 October. He says that all 294 of the affected families have received kits, but that they had to take 21 kits back due to beneficiaries not being available to receive them because of work commitments. The material is now brought through on a daily basis to those who have not received their kits.

Tyhalibongo said the Electricity Services and Water and Waste Services departments are to begin restoring the damaged infrastructure soon.

TOPICS:  Housing

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