Displaced Cape York residents reluctant to leave central Joburg

07 July 2017 - 19:38
By Naledi Shange
Cape York building on the corner of Jeppy and Nugget streets in downtown Johannesburg.
Image: Google Maps Cape York building on the corner of Jeppy and Nugget streets in downtown Johannesburg.

The majority of the 343 residents of the rundown Cape York flats which were shut down earlier this week following a fire have refused to be moved from Johannesburg’s centre‚ officials said on Friday.

The City’s Disaster Management team had on Thursday found a small shelter in Denver which would accommodate a few of the most vulnerable residents. The suburb is between Jeppestown and Malvern.

“The offer was not accepted‚” said Tshepo Motlhale‚ who is part of the team. A meeting was expected to be held later this afternoon where the residents would be briefed about a plan to move them to the Wembley Stadium near Turfontein. “We are working on a plan to establish a camp outside there because there are no open spaces or facilities which could house them in the city. At the moment‚ our technicians including people from City Power are there to see if this will be a viable option‚” said Motlhale. “But we are doing our best‚” he said.

The scores of residents had spent a second night sleeping on the pavement outside the dilapidated building they fled after the deadly blaze two days ago.

The fire claimed the lives of seven people. One died after jumping out a window of the third floor of the building. Six others died either from smoke inhalation or were burnt by the flames.

The rundown building‚ owned by Ethopian Jemal Gutto Fatto‚ was hijacked many years ago.

With no maintenance‚ the conduction of the structure has continued to deteriorate. Numerous deaths in the building have been reported – some from criminal activities and others from fires started in the premises.

There is no running water‚ electricity or sanitation in the building but residents have refused to move.

Many of them are substance abusers and Motlhale told TimesLIVE that it has been difficult to negotiate with some of the intoxicated residents.

“We also have a problem with leadership. Everyone there seems to want to be a leader‚” said Motlhale.

Of the 343 people who are displaced‚ 21 are children‚ some as young as seven months. While a solution is sought‚ the City has continued to give food and blankets to the residents.