News agency, Cape Town, South Africa
Tuesday July 16th 2019

Shack fire fatalities spark protest

08 May 2012

Residents of TR Section, Khayelitsha, gaze at the remains of a shack fire that killed two people and sparked a protest over lack of housing delivery yesterday. Photo: Nombulelo Damba/WCN

The death of two people in a shack fire in Khayelitsha TR informal settlement on Sunday morning sparked a protest over the lack of housing delivery in the area.

It is believed a paraffin heater caused the fire. Yamkela Mkiva, 15, died in the blaze, while her step father Andile Mnyamana and her mother Thembeka Mkiva were badly burnt and were rushed to hospital where Mnyamana died of his injuries.

The incident led to residents taking to the streets on Sunday night and early yesterday morning where they burnt tyres and scattered rubbish across Mew Way. The protesting residents said Human Settlement MEC Bonginkosi Madikizela and City ofCape Town are to be blame for the deaths as they had not provided proper houses and electricity.

A housing project for residents of TR Section has been on cards for a while.

On February 14 Madikizela met with residents at the Andile Mzisi Hall and discussed who would qualify for houses in the Nuwe Begin Housing Project in Mfuleni. Madikizela apparently told residents that the first group of TR Section residents would be moved to Nuwe Begin in April but residents said this has not happened.

Resident Thobile Nelane said he lost most of his clothes in the fire as his shack was partially burnt by the blaze.

“I heard people shouting ‘fire, fire’.  I ran outside. Mkhiva’s house was on fire. The family was shouting inside for help.”

Nelane said they tried to prise open the burglar bars but when they refused to give someone managed to prise the zinc clad walls open.

“Mnyamane dragged his wife out and went back for his step daughter, but he gave up before he saved her.  They were badly burned.”

Nelane said fire fighters did not arrive.

“We had to help ourselves. Some dug sand to put the fire out.”

He said the continual postponement of dates for residents to move to Nuwe Begin angered the community.

“If we were moved in April, the date they promised us, nothing like this could have happened.”

Another resident who did not want to be named said the Mkhiva family had lived in TR Section for over ten years.

“If Madikizela had kept his promise these people could have been alive today. We need proper houses, we’ve been living in shacks for too long.”

Ward councillor Luvuyo Hebe said residents were angry at delays in the process.

“Madikizela promised to move them on 8th April but changed the date to 8th May and residents are scared that it might change again, that’s why they’re protesting. People died while waiting for houses,” he said.

Hebe said he and other community leaders had managed to calm the protestors down yesterday.

Madikizela’s spokesperson Bruce Oom, said the department recognized that people were “very eager” to move into their houses and the department was mandated to make it happen as soon as possible.

But Oom said all correspondence with regulars had stipulated that the dates provided were provisional.

He said the reason for the delay in moving residents to Nuwe Begin was that the Department intended to move everyone at one time and then clear the area from which they have been moved.

“This will prevent people from illegally occupying the land of the informal settlements that has just been vacated, and will enable the department to manage the process. An important point is that many people in the informal settlement are living on a wetland area, and once they move into their houses, no further settlement on the wetland will be possible,” said Oom. – Nombulelo Damba

Tags: Andile Mnyamana, Andile Mzisi Hall, Bonginkosi Madikizela, Bruce Oom, Khayelitsha TR informal settlement, Luvuyo Hebe, Mew Way, Mfuleni, Nuwe Begin Housing Project, shack fire, Thembeka Mkiva, Thobile Nelane, Yamkela Mkiva

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