12 January 2017

South Africa: Philippi Fire Victims Demand More Taps

City of Cape Town promises upgrade for Sweethome Farm

Residents of part of Sweethome Farm in Philippi have urged the City of Cape Town to install additional communal taps to make it easier to put out fires.

This follows several fires in the area, leading to loss of possessions including clothes, IDs, passports, bank cards and furniture. A fire on Christmas Day destroyed several shacks.

Residents said there was one communal tap for about 120 people.

"This makes it difficult to put out the fires," said a resident who has been living there since 2002.

In an emailed response to questions from GroundUp, City spokesperson Priya Reddy said an upgrade was planned for the area. "The City will investigate the possibility of installing additional taps until the earmarked upgrade project commences."

Sandile Daweti, who was busy rebuilding his shack with materials supplied by the City, said: "We are tired of these fires. Last year we experienced the same story. I think the City should build us brick houses."

Daweti, 42, has been in the area for 20 years.

His four-roomed shack was destroyed by the fire .

Daweti said one cause of fires was drunk residents who fell asleep while cooking in the early hours of the morning, leaving stoves unattended. He called on the authorities to force shebeens to close earlier.

"If authorities could be very strict on the times these shebeens close, say 8:30 pm, I don't think we would be having many such fires," he said.

Another resident called on the City to widen the passages between shacks so that it would be easier to fight fires. "The City should re-block our area like it did to our neighbours. This will reduce fire spreading to other shacks," he said, pointing to the 30cm distance between his newly rebuilt shack and those of his neighbours.

Poles used for electricity connections were all burnt. Mayoral Committee member for Human Settlements Benedicta van Minnen said electricity would be reconnected "as soon as possible".

Van Minnen said the City had issued 48 kits to residents after the Christmas Day fire. These include pine poles, galvanised corrugated roof sheets, a wooden door with hinges and a lock set, a wooden-framed window and nails.

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