Fires cause thousands of the poorest to lose everything yet again in Cape Town
30 November 2015
COPE has repeatedly urged government at all three levels to provide planning services at the very least for informal settlements.
The fact that 4000 were made homeless in one disastrous instance highlights the necessity for immediate action. Our humanity, leave alone our politics, demands real action from the powers that be.
If roads are laid out to encourage temporary structures to be erected in an orderly fashion, the poorest of the poor would not have had to endure fire after fire without any end in sight to their torment.
Furthermore, it is our contention that the Cape Town City Council should have acted proactively and trained community members to become volunteer fire fighters. The Council could thereafter have provided such firefighters with equipment and extinguishers. Why has this not been done in view of fires being such a frequent occurrence.
Fires have been ravaging informal settlements with monotonous regularity. Even so, no one in power is doing anything to allow the poorest of the poor to hold on to their meagre possessions and lead a life of some dignity.
COPE is saddened that impoverished Masiphumelele should be saddled with even greater hardships now. We feel enraged that nearly 4 000 people have lost just about everything they have. Foresight and some care from the authorities would have prevented destruction of this magnitude.
Mayor Patricia de Lille must indeed explain why the City took no action to prevent fires from running out of control. What has she and her council done to minimise the hazard of fire that afflicts the poorest of the poor so repeatedly and endlessly.
Besides the enormous fire in Masiphumelele there was also a fire in Langa which saw another fifty or so Cape Town residents losing everything.
This is a very serious indictment on the Local, provincial as well as the national government. How can those in power sleep comfortably when the poorest of the poor are afflicted in this way?
COPE demands that the authorities take immediate steps to provide planning to the poor and to take all steps necessary to remove the constant fire hazard that very poor people have to live with.
Issued by Dennis Bloem, Spokesperson, COPE, 30 November 2015