Jack Bloom MPL

DA Gauteng Caucus Leader

At a press conference today the Democratic Alliance in Gauteng proposed emergency housing assistance for shack fires based on the successful programme in the Western Cape.

According to a survey of press reports, 88 fires have destroyed or damaged 3225 shacks in informal settlements in Gauteng from 2006 to 2011. Eighty four people have died in these fires, and more than 12 000 people have been displaced.

There have been 20 reported shack fires so far this year in Gauteng, destroying 407 shacks, causing 10 deaths and displacing more than 1500 people. It’s likely that fires are under-reported, and that Gauteng suffers on average about 1000 shacks a year destroyed by fire.

These fires are devastating for poor people who lose all their meagre possessions, including identity documents.

Assistance to them is very limited, unlike in the Western Cape where disaster-recovery kits and other help is provided.

The DA proposes that Emergency Housing Kits be provided to help fire victims in Gauteng rebuild their shacks.

As pioneered in the City of Cape Town, the kit would include:

– Enough timber to create an adequate frame;

– Sufficient zinc cladding to construct walls and a roof;

– A door frame and door with sufficient nails;

– Access to a hammer

The materials include ten wooden poles, five galvanised zinc sheets, door and door frame, nails and plastic sheets. This costs about R1400.

It would cost about R1.5 million to have enough Emergency Housing Kits to replace 1000 burnt shacks in Gauteng every year.

The Western Cape spends R20 million a year on assistance each year for fire and flood victims in shack settlements, which includes food and blankets.

The DA will push in the Gauteng Legislature for Emergency Housing Kits to be funded and made available to all local municipalities in the province.

We will also push for Home Affairs to use their mobile units to visit after all shack fires to assist in replacing identity documents.

Later this year the DA will unveil proposals to prevent shack fires which are a serious problem in Gauteng.

Shack dwellers are generally forgotten people. They need greater assistance so that they can build secure and happier lives.

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