15 March 2017

South Africa: Minister Visits Hout Bay Fire Victims' Families

Photo: Ashraf Hendricks/GroundUp
Residents have been rebuilding in Imizamo Yethu after a devastating fire.

Pretoria — Human Settlements Minister Lindiwe Sisulu has visited Hout Bay to convey government's condolences to the families of those who passed on during Saturday's tragic fire which killed four and left about 15 000 people homeless.

Minister Sisulu was accompanied by Deputy Minister Zou Kota-Fredericks, Western Cape Human Settlements MEC Bonginkosi Madikizela and City of Cape Mayco Member for Human Settlements Xanthea Limberg.

During the visit on Tuesday, Minister Sisulu committed all three spheres of government to find a permanent solution to the humanitarian disaster that occurs annually through fires in the informal settlements areas of Imizamo Yethu.

She said the first priority is to take care of the families of the deceased and ensure that all the children of affected families go to school.

"After spending an afternoon here, it is clear that we have to find a permanent solution to this annual disaster. Our government programmes and different subsidies must be used to address the needs of the people.

"Developing permanent sustainable human settlements in this land and other relevant land in the City must be considered as a solution. The City must also manage the growth of informal settlements in the area by planning for urbanisation and inflow of young people," Minister Sisulu said.

MEC Madikizela visited the area shortly after the tragedy struck to coordinate immediate relief to the community commended the City of Cape Town for working around the clock to ensure all victims get necessary assistance.

The MEC thanked all Non-Governmental Organisations who responded to the disaster and assisted families.

"Going forward we will prioritize better planning for urbanization to ensure sustainable development of human settlements. Fires like this will soon be things of the past. We have dealt with similar situations at other projects - these include Joe Slovo in Langa. It is time we focus on this area," MEC Madikizela said.

Councillor Limberg said the City has made an estimated R30 million available for the distribution of over 5 500 fire kits.

"The City estimates that over R50 million expenditure for the provision of services in terms of providing infrastructure for the resettlement of the community. We are spending approximately R1 580 000 a day on solid waste clean-up operations," she said.

The collective called on officials from National, Provincial and the City to form an urgent Task Team, working with community leaders to find a medium and long term solution.

The Task Team will report to the political principals on a weekly basis.

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