‘Attempted land invasion’ to blame for fire, says City of Cape Town

21 December 2020 - 18:42
By TimesLIVE
A fire tore through Masiphumelele in Cape Town on Thursday last week, leaving thousands of residents homeless.
Image: City of Cape Town A fire tore through Masiphumelele in Cape Town on Thursday last week, leaving thousands of residents homeless.

A devastating fire that destroyed more than 1,000 structures at the Masiphumelele informal settlement in Cape Town was likely to have been caused by an “attempted land invasion”.

This is according to mayor Dan Plato in a press statement released on Monday evening.

“Disaster management officials have announced that this fire was likely caused by an attempted land invasion. It is shameful that a humanitarian disaster, resulting in the total loss of people’s homes and belongings, has been caused by criminal elements. Because of this criminality, thousands will now spend their Christmas having to rebuild their structures,” he said.

The fire tore through the area on Thursday, leaving thousands homeless.

City officials visited the area at the weekend. After the visit, an application has been made to the national government for R18m in disaster relief funding. The application, according to the City of Cape Town, would be tabled before cabinet this week.

As we await relief funding to become available from national government, City of Cape Town officials remain hard at work assisting residents. Funding will be channelled from national through the Western Cape government as per legislated requirements. The city is doing its best to expedite the process as far as its powers allow,” the city said.

It said a number of activities are taking place on the site. These include:

  • Four bulldozers are on site, clearing the significant volume of debris. The bulldozing is being complicated by the fact that it is in a wetland, making the ground soft and difficult for heavy-duty vehicles to manoeuvre. About 80% has now been cleared.
  • The city’s informal settlements management department had registered the 1,300 fire-affected heads of household so far. All the members of the households have been verified and the process has been completed.
  • Once fully cleared and the area treated and formally re-established, plots will be demarcated and proof of residence certificates will be issued to the registered affected residents, subject to the pending national disaster declaration. “The city urges the leadership structures to encourage affected residents not to attempt to rebuild on the site until the city gives the go-ahead and all necessary processes have been followed. This might take a while and will not happen overnight,” the city said.
  • Electrical infrastructure, a substation, as well as toilets, taps and standpipes have been destroyed. These must be reinstated when the site has been cleared.
  • A storage facility for donated items is being established at the site.

“There is still an appeal to members of the public to please donate essential items such as blankets, baby food, nappies, baby milk and non-perishable food to Living Hope in Masiphumelele,” the city said.