Jack Bloom MPL
DA Gauteng Caucus Leader
It is truly tragic that four more people died this weekend in shack fires in Gauteng. There have been nine reported deaths in total due to shack fires in July, which brings to 18 the total number of deaths from this cause in Gauteng so far this year.
According to the latest reports, one man died in the Makuse informal settlement in Germiston, another in Palm Ridge in Alberton and two men died in Muldersdrift. Many more have been injured and permanently scarred for life by shack fires.
This is a serious problem that requires the intervention of the Gauteng Provincial Government to assist local authorities in preventing shack fires.
The provision of electricity would do most to prevent these fires which are often caused by candles and paraffin stoves. In the interim, there should be enforcement of the law concerning sale of safe paraffin stoves that will not lead to a fire if over-turned.
Education of shack dwellers needs to be stepped up. Children should not be left alone in shacks, which is the cause of many fires. There should be spaces between shacks so that fires don’t spread, and fire exercises so that people know how best to put out fires.
More than 1500 people have been displaced by 25 reported shack fires in Gauteng this year.
Gauteng should follow the example of Western Cape in providing emergency housing assistance when fires occur. I will be proposing in the Gauteng Provincial Legislature that Emergency Housing Kits be provided so that people can speedily rebuild their shacks.
We cannot stand idly by while this human tragedy continues amongst very vulnerable people who lose all their meagre possessions in shack fires.