root - December 12, 2023

  • 139 people left destitute ahead of the festive season

Almost 140 people, including women and children, have been left destitute and in dire need after a fire razed their shacks in Doornbach informal settlement to the ground on Thursday 7 December. 

Doornbach, also known as Site 5, is situated opposite Dunoon.

Fortunately, no one was injured or killed in the blaze that erupted at 3.20pm and destroyed 41 homes before it was finally extinguished at 7.30pm.

“No injuries were reported and the cause is still unknown,” said City of Cape Town Fire and Rescue Services spokesperson Jermaine Carelse.

Carelse said the fire and rescue service was notified at about 3.20pm of informal structures burning in Section 5, on Thursday 7 December. Crews from  various fire stations were sent to the scene, with seven fire fighting resources and more than 30 staff battling the blaze. 

Community leader and South African National Civic Organisation branch chairperson Sinethemba Matomela said the fire destroyed everything in its path and most residents were at work when it erupted.

Matomela said one fire victim had gone to the nearby national retailer to buy a bus ticket to travel to the Eastern Cape the next day. After buying the ticket she returned home to find her home on fire. Inside her home were gifts she had bought to take to her grand children in the Eastern Cape, said Matomela. She also lost all the groceries she had bought for the holiday.

He said the woman was unable to cancel her trip and left her home and belongings in ashes as she travelled to her home village the next day.

He said other residents have started rebuilding their homes by straightening the charred zinc sheets.

“Those who can afford are rebuilding and most are using the burnt zinc sheets. What is worrying is that the City of Cape Town stopped proving building materials,” said Matomela. 

City of Cape Town Disaster Risk Management Centre spokesperson Charlotte Powell confirmed that the fire destroyed 41 shacks, leaving 139 residents destitute and in need. 

“Gift of the Givers and SASSA have been activated to provide humanitarian relief,” said Powell. 

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