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CT urged to find solutions to shack fires

A professor has asked the City of Cape Town to come up with solutions to stop shack fires.

FILE: A professor has asked the City of Cape Town to come up with solutions to stop shack fires. Picture: Aletta Gardner/EWN.

CAPE TOWN - A Cape Town professor has written a letter to Premier Helen Zille and mayor Patricia de Lille asking them to prioritise solutions to the deadly shack fires in Masiphumelele.

The letter has been signed by more than 80 people, including Rivonia trialist Prof Denis Goldberg, and has been endorsed by Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu.

At least seven people have lost their lives in shack fires in the area over the last few months.

Earlier this week, a man died in a shack fire while over 100 others were left homeless in Masiphumelele.

In another incident, 1,400 people were left destitute after a blaze destroyed their homes in Valhalla Park in December.

Speaking to 567 CapeTalk, Professor Andy Dawes says they cannot turn a blind eye to what is happening in Masiphumelele.

"We are neighbours of Masiphumelele and tragedies are happening on our doorstep so we can't ignore this."

Dawes calls for a second access road to be built.

"We don't see ourselves as speaking for the people of Masiphumelele at all. In fact, there are a number of leaders in Masiphumelele who have come on board with us in this initiative."

He says the city should work with residents.

"The idea is not to tell the city what to do but to galvanise action so that the city can sit down with leaders of the community over time and work together on solutions."

Meanwhile, the City of Cape Town has a housing backlog dating back to more than 20 years.

Last year, several residents from informal settlements took to the streets demanding housing.

They have also accused the city of ignoring the plight of the poor.