Jim se Bos fire leaves hundreds homeless

Structures destroyed in the massive fire last weekend.

Days after a fire swept through Jim se Bos informal settlement last week, community leaders and businesses joined forces to support the family of a resident who died in the fire, help feed the 564 displaced victims, and to rebuild the 195 structures which had been destroyed.

Earlier that day, frustrated residents had taken to the streets in protest, causing damages of around R800 000.

Edward Bosch, spokesperson for the City’s Fire and Rescue Service said they responded to reports about the fire at the settlement in Olieboom Road, Philippi at 11.51am on June 20.

The community efforts to help those affected took place on Friday June 25.

Hundreds of people were displaced.

Mr Bosch said: “The response included 17 firefighting vehicles with 72 firefighters.

“As the conditions were not favourable, it took firefighters just under nine hours to extinguish the fire. Sadly there was one fatality, that of a person of unknown age and gender. Three firefighters were injured during firefighting and one was taken to hospital. The cause is unknown at this stage and the scene was handed over to SAPS.”

Chantel Alexander, spokesperson for Disaster Risk Management confirmed that 195 structures had been destroyed, leaving 564 people displaced. “No emergency sheltering has been activated and residents have opted to stay with family and friends,” she said.

“Humanitarian assistance has been provided in the form of hot meals and water from Gift of the Givers,” she added.

“Sassa will be providing brunch and supper for three days as well as mattresses, blankets and vanity packs. The Department of Social Development will assist with psycho-social support for the affected persons.”

Front, from left, Abe Braaf, advice officer; Anna Jacobs, chairperson of Jim se Bos and Rugayba Adams, community leader. At the back are Patricia Masizan, Beauty Matthews and David Rats, Jim se Bos committee members; and Rameez Ryklief, business man and volunteer.

Anna Jacobs, chairperson of Jim se Bos Committee, said another fire broke out on Monday, at 11am, but this was not confirmed by the Fire and Rescue Service.

Ms Jacobs said people were sleeping in the nearby creche, the Jesus Celebrate Church and with family and friends.

Abe Braaf, Ward 67 advice officer, told Southern Mail that community workers of New Horizon and business owners of Strandfontein had joined forces with the committee of Jim se Bos to help address the needs of the fire victims.

Mr Braaf said as the Disaster Risk Management had stopped handing out starter kits for fire victims the families desperately needed materials to rebuild their homes. “Also beds, bedding, kitchen utensils, clothing, school bags, books, furniture, doors, window frames, poles and sinks, toiletries, blankets, cutlery, mattresses, IDs, and replacement of personal documents lost in fire.”

Rugayba Adams of Koeliayatul Ansaar, Institution of Helpers, a non-profit organisation, said they had been providing hot meals and porridge for children.”

“The people are traumatised and our members are reaching out to those who lost everything by uplifting them,” she said.

Mr Braaf said the residents expressed their frustration regarding the lack of housing and service delivery on the streets on Friday June 25 by protesting which turned to violence and destruction of property.

With desperate pleas for help, residents took to Strandfontein Road at about 4.30am on Friday by burning tyres and causing severe traffic congestion.

Damage totalled over R800 000 when the KFC and McDonalds building, traffic lights and signalling were vandalised by the group.

The combined damage for the food franchises was R150 000, the two signal boxes and traffic lights damage will cost R300 000 each to fix and resurfacing of the road will cost about R100 000.

Two traffic boxes, KFC and Mcdonalds were vandalised when Jim se Bos residents protested for materials.

Grassy Park station commander Colonel Dawood Laing said Public Order Police, Law Enforcement, Metro Police, Traffic Services and police were on the scene to calm the situation. The road was cleared at about 10.30 am.

Two people – a 17-year-old boy and a 25 – year old man – were arrested for public violence and appeared in court.

Ms Jacobs said the community were desperate for shelter and took their frustrations to the streets: “The community were very upset because they didn’t know how they were going to get through without help with materials especially now in winter. We were then told afterwards that we will get assistance and the community is very appreciative of the help.”

A shopkeeper, who did not want to be named, said he was worried his and other shops would be targeted.

“It started early on Friday morning and we could only open up later in the day. We understand the plight of the community, because it’s winter and they need shelter. They need houses and in part we stand with them but we were very worried about our livelihoods and had to be on high alert because the other big shops down the road were damaged.

“Thankfully we weren’t affected but we will help Jim se Bos however we can,” he said.

If you would like to help, contact Anna Jacobs on 063 235- 5550 or Rugayba Adams 064 233 0059 or email Rogaybaa@gmail.com or call Abe Braaf on 071 216 9894 or email abeparalegalservice@yahoo.com

When Southern Mail asked if the starter kits for fire victims would be reintroduced, mayoral committee member for human settlements Malusi Booi, reiterated that the starter kits had been discontinued due to national government budget cuts.

“The City is unfortunately no longer able to pay for the automatic provision of fire kits outside of a declared disaster. The City was the only metro in South Africa that provided the service of fire building materials outside of a declared disaster,” he said.

“Every instance of fire is assessed and a specific approach is developed as all instances have unique circumstances. The City enables and facilitates soft relief, such as donations, site clearing, verification and assessments for assistance, where required and based on the assessments.”