CoCT to declare Masiphumelele disaster area after thousands displaced by fire

While no one was injured or killed, more than 1,000 homes were destroyed, and most residents lost their possessions.

Cape Town Mayor Dan Plato on 18 December 2020 visited Masiphumelele after a massive fire raged through part of the informal settlement on 17 December 2020 leaving more than 1,000 homes destroyed. Picture: Kevin Brandt/EWN

MASIPHUMELELE - Cape Town Mayor Dan Plato has set in motion the process to declare Masiphumelele a local disaster area after a massive fire raged through part of the informal settlement on Thursday.

Plato on Friday signed the papers necessary to the provincial government to gazette it, which would free up resources to help thousands of residents who lost everything.

READ: Masiphumelele fire: hundreds salvaging belongings amid smouldering debris

While no one was injured or killed, more than 1,000 homes were destroyed, and most residents lost their possessions. Fire officials were investigating the cause of the fire.

Plato said that the site would be cleared so rebuilding could begin in earnest.

“We need to clear the site and that will commence within the next hour or so. It will take about two days for the site to be cleared,” Plato said.

The City of Cape Town (CoCT) was expected to provide material for fire victims to rebuild their homes.

At the same time, surrounding communities rallied round to help replace some of what was lost and delivered foodstuffs, clothes, and household goods to local church groups.

While eating a peanut butter sandwich washed down with water, Dumile Dudula, surveyed the charred debris that used to be his home.

Dudula lost pretty much everything and this was the fifth time he had lost his belongings due to fire.

“I’ve lost everything, including my furniture and food, because I was at work when the fire happened,” he said.

READ: displaced Masiphumelele residents rebuild their homes after devastating fire

At one end of what used to be the family’s home, lay broken cutlery, the burnt-out shell of a microwave, and a freezer rack still holding pieces of raw meat, indicating the space where a refrigerator once stood.

Standing in the rubble looking shell-shocked was a mother and her four-year-old girl who were affected by the blaze.

“My clothes burned in the fire and also my doll. All of my things were on fire,” said the little girl.

Miraculously, no one was injured or killed in the fire, but standing on what looks like the scene of a bomblast, the human cost was all too clear.

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