Maverick Citizen

South Africa

Here’s how to help people left homeless by Cape Town’s Joe Slovo fire

Here’s how to help people left homeless by Cape Town’s Joe Slovo fire
Joe Slovo informal settlement fire victims receive food parcels, coordinated by food rescue and hunger-relief organisation SA Harvest, on 23 May 2022, in Langa, Cape Town. (Photo: SAHarvest)

A month after the Easter weekend fire in Joe Slovo informal settlement in the Western Cape, thousands of people are still displaced. National and local NGOs and businesses are working to provide the fire victims with food, clothing and other essentials.

Just over a month ago, a fire broke out at the Joe Slovo informal settlement, in Langa, Cape Town. The fire destroyed 260 structures and left about 1,200 people homeless.

Since the fire, there has been an outpouring of humanitarian assistance for the community in the form of food, blankets and clothing from NGOs and corporates.

joe slovo informal settlement

A devastating fire destroys shacks in Langa’s Joe Slovo informal settlement in Cape Town on 16 April 2022. (Photo: Gallo Images / Grant Pitcher)

SA Harvest, with KFC Add Hope and H&M, along with partner NGOs, have delivered 450 food parcels, R400,000 worth of clothing and 50 pots and Wonderbags (non-electric slow cookers) to affected people.

On Monday, the collaboration delivered an additional 500 food hampers, each enough for a family of four. This donation was timed to bring relief to the affected families after other support had ended.

Alan Browde, the founder and CEO of SA Harvest, said: “This initiative is such a heartwarming example of the power of collaborations, bringing together the contributions of KFC Add Hope and H&M, along with the on the ground support of Den Anker restaurant, who facilitated the donation of 50 pots and Wonderbags, and Langa for Men, an NPO that educates and inspires men to be protectors, not perpetrators. The impact of organisations working together is so much greater than can be achieved through individual action.”

The humanitarian assistance has provided a lifeline for many Joe Slovo informal settlement residents.

Limise Bobo, who lost everything to the fire said: “Life has been hard since the fire. I lost everything and tried to rebuild my shack… I don’t even have the means or money to buy materials. We are grateful for the relief efforts… now we need homes… We can’t live with friends and neighbours forever.”

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Bobo said many community members were struggling to rebuild their structures and were squatting at temporary shelters made available to them by friends and neighbours.

“I am currently staying with my friend in a three-roomed house with my four and her three children… seven of us in the small house… If only someone can build houses for us or donate some building material it will go a long way,” said Vuyiswa Sotashe.

For years, residents of Joe Slovo informal settlement have been asking for proper homes, but their need has still not been met. The informal settlement has been part of a Department of Human Settlements national flagship housing project since 2014, yet offers inadequate housing.

Ali Conn, the chief innovation officer at SA Harvest, said that in addition to the housing crisis, Joe Slovo residents were facing a hunger crisis.

“We are doing all we can to support the community with food relief. But more donations towards reputable organisations like SA Harvest, which have the partnerships, infrastructure and logistics, would increase impact where it’s needed,” said Conn.

Ali Sablay of Gift of the Givers said the general need for basic essential items for the Joe Slovo community was huge — and was not just about food.

Sablay said many people still required mattresses, clothing, stationery for schoolchildren and building materials.

Gift of the Givers was one of the first responders to the Joe Slovo fire and has been working closely with the community.

You can help members of the Joe Slovo community by donating to the following organisations:

Gift of the Givers

Account name: Gift of the Givers
Bank: Standard Bank
Account number: 0521372280
Reference: Langa Fires

Langa For Men 

Account name: Langaformen
Bank: First National Bank (FNB)
Account Number: 62856673829
Reference: Joe Slovo Relief

You can contact Siyabonga on 074 074 0673 for more information.

The City of Cape Town’s Disaster Coordinating Team has identified the following drop-off points for donations for persons affected by the fire:

  • Urban-Rural Development (083 521 0328), City of Cape Town Housing Department, corner of Langalibalele Drive and Lerotholi Avenue, Langa.
  • Mustadafin Foundation (076 422 1667), corner of Heide Street and Antelope Court, Bridgetown.

Langa Baptist Church 

Members of the public can donate non-perishable items, disposable nappies, baby food, blankets and sanitary items at the Langa Baptist Church, in Sandile Avenue, Langa. DM


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