Thousands left homeless by storms and fires in the Cape

Heavy rains, high winds and fires devastate homes in past few days

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At least 1,500 residents were left homeless after a fire gutted an informal settlement in Kayamandi, Stellenbosch.

The Western Cape has been hit by gale-force winds and heavy rains since the weekend. A number of areas were also affected by fires, made worse by the high winds.

The South African Weather Service had issued a level nine warning for an intense cut-off low pressure system.

As a precaution the provincial government closed schools on Monday in the Cape Winelands, Overberg, Helderberg and Macassar, Somerset West, Strand, Gordons Bay, Lwandle and Sir Lowry’s area.

Twenty-six schools reported storm damage.

Several roads were closed over the weekend and Chapman’s Peak Drive and Clarence Drive were still closed on Monday afternoon.

The City of Cape Town said by early afternoon on Monday power supply had been restored in many of the roughly 30 areas affected by the storm.

The City’s Recreation and Parks Department’s after-hours tree emergency teams fielded at least 108 calls, exceeding the total number of incidents attended to during a three-month period in winter 2023, which was 76.

The stormy weather came on top of a devastating fire in Kayamandi. At least 1,500 people were displaced after a fire fuelled by gale-force winds swept through the informal settlement on Saturday morning.

Children play near a burnt out car in Kayamandi.

When GroundUp arrived in Kayamandi on Monday afternoon, residents were cleaning up their plots and trying to salvage what they could.

Ward Councillor Ayanda Tomose (ANC) said the fire started at about 11:30 am on Saturday.

“We opened a church and a hall where people will be able to store their things or sleep. Yesterday, we received assistance from Gift of the Givers.”

He said they were also receiving help from the province and the national Department of Human Settlements. “From tomorrow we will deliver material from the municipality,” said Tomose.

“We are trying so hard so that at least they can get back on their feet and regain the things that they’ve lost in the fire.”

“Last year we had a serious storm during winter. This one really caught us off guard because winter is just starting,” he said.

Azola Booi wasn’t home when her house burnt down. She said she lost everything and she was now staying at her brother’s house. “There was too much wind, we couldn’t even control the fire.”

Children play in the ashes and ruins of Kayamandi informal settlement.


In Lwandle, both formal and informal dwellings were damaged.

Busiswa Moreneng Gili said, “We didn’t sleep at all. In the morning yesterday, the roof just blew off. Everything is damaged.”

“I was supposed to go to work today, I can’t because of this,” she said.

Gift of the Givers arrived at the community hall in Lwandle at about 11 am on Monday. Project manager Ali Sablay said their team was assisting in 17 areas across the province.

“The operations will continue throughout the day. Our teams are on standby to assist as far as Beaufort West and the Garden Route,” he said.

Sablay said the organisation was providing blankets, warm clothing, hot meals and toiletries.

Naplani Hokonca didn’t go to work as her home was flooded. She was with her grandchildren when the storm hit.

The roof of Busiswa Moreneng Gili’s home in Lwandle was ripped off by the strong winds.

Nompendulo Sogiba, from Lwandle, said the roof of her home blew off on Saturday. She had to sleep at her neighbour’s home

Residents try to block water and sewage flowing from a flooding canal towards their homes in Lwandle.

Nomzamo, Strand

Houses were flooded in Nomzamo, Strand. On Monday residents were trying to clear a canal that is prone to flooding the area when there is a storm. The Somerset Crossing Shopping Centre was also severely damaged.

An electric pole was blown over in Simon Street in Nomzamo, Strand.

Part of Somerset Crossing Shopping Centre was destroyed.

Mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis visited teams coordinating emergency responses in infomal settlements in Nomzamo and other areas in the Helderberg. “My thanks to our frontline service staff working in very difficult and often dangerous conditions around the metro,” he said in a statement.

TOPICS:  Disaster Housing

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