Three people in hospital with serious burns after Dunoon shack fires

At least 200 people were left homeless after two fires at the weekend

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More than 50 shacks burnt down at Siyahlala informal settlement in Dunoon on Sunday, leaving 109 people outside in the cold and rain. This was one of two shack fires in the community over the weekend. Photo: Peter Luhanga

Three people are being treated in hospital for serious burn wounds after a fire ripped through two informal settlements in Dunoon, Cape Town at the weekend.

At least 200 people have been left homeless as a result of two fires in the area. Among them was Phumeza Mpekula who returned home on Monday morning to find that her home and all her belongings had burnt down.

The single mother of two had spent the weekend at a family event in the Eastern Cape and returned to find her three-room shack at Bekheka informal settlement gutted. Hers was among 32 shacks that burned after midnight on Saturday. Two men were taken to New Somerset Hospital, and a woman was rushed to Groote Schuur Hospital in a critical condition.

In another fire late Sunday in nearby Siyahlala informal settlement, 51 shacks burnt down, leaving 109 people outside in the cold and rain.

On Monday, people in Siyahlala informal settlement were clearing charred debris from their plots to start rebuilding. At Bekheka only a few shacks had been rebuilt.

Loyiso Faso who lived in a two-room shack with his wife and three children. Faso said they lost everything, including his children’s birth certificates, school books and uniforms. He has lived there since 2008.

Nozibele Gotyana shared her four-room shack with her two adult children and five grandchildren. Gotyana, who is unemployed, depends on her grandchildren’s child support grants to survive. She said they also lost all of their belongings.

“I don’t know what I’ll eat or where I’ll sleep. My children do not work… we survive on the child support grant,” she said.

She said this was not the first shack fire in the settlement, but very little has been done to improve their living conditions over the years.

Community leader Azasiphe Mafufu claimed the fires were caused by an electrical fault, but officials say the official cause is still unknown.

The City of Cape Town’s disaster risk management spokesperson, Charlotte Powell, said: “Our NGO partners have been activated to provide humanitarian assistance. No deaths were reported.”

TOPICS:  Fire Housing

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