Lack of housing blamed for death of woman in shack fire

THE ANC in Western Cape says the long-term solution for fires in Cape Town informal settlements is to build decent houses for the people.

This comes after a woman in her 60s, Noluzile Ngcwana, died and about 350 houses were destroyed by a devastating fire in Langa on Monday night.

Many residents lost their possessions, including clothes and furniture.

Schoolchildren did not go to school because their books and uniforms were also burnt in the blaze.

Yesterday ANC provincial secretary Songezo Mjongile said: "We believe the only way to stop regular fires in the informal settlements is to build decent houses for the people.

"We are calling for the speeding up of housing delivery in Western Cape to create security for our people."

Mjongile said winter was approaching and people's homes were likely to be flooded.

Though temporary measures have been put in place to solve people's immediate problems, in the long run these measures do not solve any problem.

"It is sad that some of the people in informal settlements have lived there for up to 30 years," Mjongile said.

Solly Malatsi, spokesman for mayor Patricia de Lille, said it was unfortunate that the country was facing a huge housing backlog, given that hundreds of thousands of people who needed houses were still waiting.

The situation was not unique to Cape Town, Malatsi said. The city was doing its best to build quality houses for people who qualified for them, he assured.

Malatsi said: "The ANC's claims are a complete misunderstanding of the housing challenges that the City is facing."

The national government is responsible for the allocation of funding for housing to municipalities.

"Based on the latest allocation from national government, the City was only able to build approximately 12000 houses.

"This is a miniscule figure considering that there are over 400000 people on the City's housing waiting list."

Malatsi also said if the national government gave municipalities more money for housing instead of squandering taxpayers' money on luxurious ministerial vehicles and unnecessary junkets, the country would make serious strides in eradicating the housing backlog.

Bonginkosi Madikizela of the provincial human settlements department said it was unrealistic to expect everyone to get a house under the current housing programmes.

"With the current resources, there is only capacity to deliver about 25000 housing opportunities (including top structures and serviced sites) per year."

Madikizela said at the current rate, it would take about 28 years to clear the backlog.

It was true that many people have been waiting a long time (for houses), sometimes 30 years, which was an unfortunate reality.

More people were migrating to the Western Cape each year as it has a reputation for effective service delivery, good health systems, good education and job opportunities, Madikizela said.