Will new Gauteng premier support emergency housing for shack fires?

Jack Bloom MPL

DA Johannesburg East Constituency Head

This week I visited the scene of a shack fire in Jumpers informal settlement in Cleveland, east Johannesburg.

About 80 shacks burnt down after a man poured paraffin over another man and set him alight, resulting in his death and the fire spreading to other shacks.

Last year in October, 100 shacks burnt down displacing about 600 people.

More than 1000 shacks burn down every year in Gauteng, leaving about 5000 people homeless.

The following incidents have been reported so far this year:

  • In February, in an informal settlement in Midrand, a fire destroyed 200 shacks.
  • In April, 40 shacks burnt down in a Denver informal settlement
  • A family was engulfed in a shack fire in Vlakfontein, Lenasia, on the 3rd of June where three children and a woman were killed in the blaze.
  • Sixty-nine shacks were destroyed and 350 people  were displaced when a fire broke out in Marlboro on 10th June.
  • A man died after eight shacks caught fire in the Zamimpilo informal settlement, west of Johannesburg.

Emergency shack housing is desperately needed for shack fires, as is provided in the Western Cape.

The city of Cape Town provides an emergency housing shack kit that includes wooden poles, zinc sheets, nails, roofing, plastic sheets and a door.

But the ANC in the Gauteng Legislature rejected my motion two years ago to provide emergency housing kits.

I will be writing to new premier David Makhura to consider implementing emergency housing kits in view of the many tragic shack fires every year, especially in winter.

I hope that Makhura responds positively to the pressing humanitarian need to assist the helpless victims of shack fires.