Struggle to rebuild shacks

A Cape Town community is struggling to pick up the pieces after a raging fire destroyed 134 shacks and their community creche last month

The shacks of QQ Section informal settlement in Khayelitsha are built directly under enormous electricity pylons - a health hazard to residents.

Community leader Mbongeni Mkhaliphi said Cape Town mayor Dan Plato promised to move them after Eskom said they could never connect electricity to the shacks because of the huge pylons overhead.

Community leaders say the city has reneged on its promise to move them to safer ground.

They also voiced anger at ANC councillor Elsie Kwayinto, accusing her of telling Plato they don't want to move.

Plato allegedly told residents that Kwayinto said they had been moved twice and didn't want to move again. But Kwayinto said this was a lie.

"There is no such thing. I know their plight. I know that they can't have electricity because of those pylons they live under," she said.

Mkhaliphi said the nine sheets of zinc and eight poles given to each family after the fire were not enough.

"That is nowhere near enough. The people had to rebuild their shacks with the burnt metal, using the new zincs only for the roof, to keep out the winter rains," he said.

A good Samaritan came to the rescue - non-profit organisation Hope to the Children of South Africa donated R30000 to the community.

About R20000 was used to rebuild the community crèche and each family whose shack was burnt down received R140.

City spokesperson Charles Cooper said the city's "starter" kit for fire victims was not intended to replace the entire shack destroyed by the fire.

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