root - May 14, 2024

On Tuesday 7 May, community leaders were still coordinating relief efforts for fire victims at Doornbach informal settlement in Cape Town

Peter Luhanga

Hundreds of people were left outside in the cold and wet after their homes were gutted in a fire that ripped through Doornbach informal settlement in Dunoon on Monday 6 May 2024.

While no serious injuries were reported, the blaze destroyed over 200 shacks. Many of the families spent the night outside to protect whatever belongings they managed to salvage and to hold onto their plots.

By noon on Tuesday 7 May, community leaders were still counting and writing down the details of fire victims to coordinate relief efforts. People were clearing their plots to restart rebuilding their homes. But harder to recover from the charred debris were important documents such as IDs, birth certificates, bank cards and education certificates.

Community leader Zukiswa Kobe said that the fire had affected a wide area.

Zolile Qyana lived in a five-room shack with his wife and five children. He has been living in Doornbach since 2000.

Qyana said his 12-year-old daughter, who had just returned from school on Monday had woken from a sleep, screaming that the neighbouring shack had caught alight.

Dark smoke was already filling his shack. He only managed to grab three bags of clothes. “All our furniture and IDs have been burnt. It is very difficult, especially for the children. School uniforms, textbooks were all burnt. The fire was too close, I was unable to save our belongings,” said Qyana.

He is currently unemployed and survives through subsistence farming.

Near Qyana’s home, 18-year-old Zimvo Jevu was levelling his family’s plot so they could rebuild. The grade 11 learner said he had lost his uniforms and books. He lived with his parents and six siblings.

Charlotte Powell, the City of Cape Town’s Disaster Risk Management spokesperson, confirmed that 70 firefighters had tackled the fire, with their work made more challenging by the wind on Monday.

She said the fire was extinguished by 22:35. “The City’s humanitarian aid partners will provide assistance through the provision of food, blankets, clothing and toiletry packs,” said Powell. —GroundUp.

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