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Masiphumelele fire destroys 100 structures — Gift of the Givers provides humanitarian aid

Masiphumelele fire destroys 100 structures — Gift of the Givers provides humanitarian aid
A fire burned through the township of Masiphumelele, Western Cape, in the early hours of Monday morning. Gift of the Givers is providing affected residents with hot meals, water, blankets and toiletry packs. (Photo: Supplied / Ali Sablay)

A fire in Masiphumelele in the deep south of Cape Town near Fish Hoek on Monday morning affected 430 people. Gift of the Givers is providing assistance to the community in the form of meals, bedding and toiletries.

Gift of the Givers trucks have arrived in Masiphumelele, in the wake of a fire that has left many residents without shelter. The nonprofit organisation (NPO) is providing affected residents with hot meals, blankets, mattresses, and toiletry packs.

“Our teams were on the ground at 11.30am to do assessments already,” said Ali Sablay, project manager for Gift of the Givers. “People are quite used to our teams in that area. I think it’s about the fourth or fifth time we’re responding to a [fire] disaster in Masiphumelele.” 

The fire in Masiphumelele has destroyed 100 dwellings and affected 430 people, according to Charlotte Powell, spokesperson for City of Cape Town Disaster Risk Management. One person is reported to have died in the blaze.

Masiphumelele residents receiving aid

Gift of the Givers has responded to fire disasters in the Masiphumelele area a number of times before, according to Ali Sablay, project manager for Gift of the Givers. (Photo: Supplied / Ali Sablay)

Humanitarian assistance is being provided by the South African Social Security Agency and the Department of Social Development, as well as Gift of the Givers and another NPO, Living Hope.

“No emergency sheltering will be provided as the fire victims will stay with family and friends,” said Powell. “Home Affairs was informed to assist with ID documentation for matric learners and others. City services are still on site doing damage assessments.”


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The city’s Fire and Rescue Service was alerted that structures in the area were on fire at 02.45am on Monday morning, according to Jermaine Carelse, spokesperson for the Fire and Rescue Service.

“Kommetjie Road fire station’s crew was first on scene and confirmed numerous informal structures burning, fanned by a strong South-Easterly wind, and called on more resources to help bring the blaze under control,” said Carelse. 

“A total of 18 fire fighting appliances and approximately 70 firefighters from various fire stations [were] on scene.”

The fire was brought under control just before 5am, and was extinguished at 8.20am.

“It’s quite sad to see the little ones looking through the rubble, finding a jersey or finding a jacket,” Sablay told Maverick Citizen. “There’s quite a few children affected, so once we have the proper reports… we will be providing the kids with a uniform and stationery as well.”

Masiphumelele fire victims receiving aid

Gift of the Givers teams distributing hot meals, water and blankets to Masiphumelele fire victims. (Photo: Supplied / Ali Sablay)

Many of the children have become desensitised to such disasters in their area, he continued.

“Sometimes, when a child sees their place being burnt down, you’ll see… the child will be traumatised, but when the children are seven or eight years old [at Masiphumelele], they are used to it… they’re quite prone to the disasters,” said Sablay. “That’s a [tragic] way to bring up a child as well, so let’s just hope these people can be put in a house, so that there can be dignity.”

The items that affected community members are most in need of include building materials, toiletries and baby-care goods, such as nappies and formula, he continued. Those wishing to make donations in support of affected residents can drop items at the Gift of the Givers Foundation office in Cape Town or at Living Hope on Kommetjie Road. DM/MC

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