14 March 2017

South Africa: Fire and Wind - Cape's Curse Hits Townships Hardest Again


Another weekend of fire in the Western Cape saw at least nine people perish and thousands left destitute. The worst affected area was Imizamo Yethu, the informal settlement outside Hout Bay, where an estimated 15,000 people lost homes and possessions. It's a pattern repeated year after year, but can anything be done to stop the cycle? By REBECCA DAVIS.

On a hot, blustery Monday morning in Imizamo Yethu, hundreds of people queued in a line outside a community hall. Plumes of smoke were still rising on the mountains above Hout Bay, while helicopters darted to and fro with containers of water.

Trucks from aid organisations navigated Imizamo Yethu's steep roads, bearing cargo of food and toiletries. Inside the Iziko Lobomi hall, harried-looking volunteers worked alongside City of Cape Town officials and emergency services staff to process the steady stream of individuals waiting for assistance. On the wall, a taped-up sign read: "Kom Haal Kat en Hond Kos by DARG" (Fetch cat and dog food from the Domestic Animal Rescue Group).

"We've halved this queue already this morning," one volunteer said, eyeing the long snake of people waiting for assistance. She wouldn't give her name, but said she was there from...

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