Temporary tent shelter set up for Cape York residents

10 July 2017 - 09:01 By Naledi Shange
The Cape York building on the corner of Jeppe and Nugget streets in downtown Johannesburg.
The Cape York building on the corner of Jeppe and Nugget streets in downtown Johannesburg.
Image: Google Maps

The human settlements‚ education and home affairs departments are among some of the government entities that have been roped in to assist the displaced residents of the Cape York block of flats in the Johannesburg CBD which went up in flames last week.

Tshepo Motlhale‚ who is part of the City’s Disaster Management team‚ said the residents would be assisted with temporary shelter at the Wembley stadium in Turffontein where at least 100 of them have taken shelter.

“We have relocated about 100 of them although the number keeps on fluctuating as some people are still arriving while others have left because they do not want to be far away from the City‚” he said.

The residents were moved on Friday after spending two days sleeping on the pavement adjacent to the fire-ravaged building while officials sought alternative accommodation for them.

“We have erected tents there as temporary shelter but this is all a short term solution. The City of Johannesburg’s housing officials and the human settlements department will step in to find long term solutions he said.

A total of 385 people were displaced when a fire spread through several floors of the dilapidated Cape York flats. Seven people were killed. One died after leaping out of a window of the burning building while six others died either from smoke inhalation or from the flames.

At the temporary shelter‚ water and sanitation had been provided.

“Breakfast‚ lunch and dinner is also served. We have also given out hygiene and food packs although it is not enough for everyone‚” said Motlhale.

“In terms of schooling‚ the advantage is that many of the children are on school holidays but the department of education will be coming in to see how they can assist in terms of transportation for learners from the stadium‚ school uniforms and school materials.” Some of the displaced residents claimed to have lost their identity documents and passports in the blaze.

Officials from the department of home affairs would assist in the reapplication for these.

The biggest issue however‚ has been the rampant substance abuse from some of those who lived in the building.

“We have had to call in law enforcement officials to deal with the drug and nyaope problem‚” said Motlhale.

Police have since shut the building‚ deeming it a safety hazard.

The building owner has since received a court interdict barring any of those who had hijacked his building from re-entering the premises‚ said Motlhale.

The Cape York building was in a dire state with no water‚ electricity and sanitation on the premises. Residents used buckets for sanitation and generators were used to power some of the units. Candles and paraffin stoves were used for light and cooking.

- TimesLIVE