Nearly 2 000 people in WC affected by fires in the span of nine days

Widespread damage was reported across Cape Town and surrounds on Sunday including a tree that fell on a number of shacks in Kayamandi, Stellenbosch. Picture: Ayanda Ndamane/Independent Newspapers

Widespread damage was reported across Cape Town and surrounds on Sunday including a tree that fell on a number of shacks in Kayamandi, Stellenbosch. Picture: Ayanda Ndamane/Independent Newspapers

Published Apr 8, 2024


Multiple fires have wreaked havoc in the Western Cape, with more than 1 000 people left destitute in Nyanga and Stellenbosch at the weekend.

Over nine days, infernos have swept through a number of informal settlements, destroying close to 700 structures and affecting nearly 2 000 people.

Two people have died and a number of others were injured.

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Gift of the Givers said they were assisting about 1 500 people in Kayamandi, Stellenbosch, with humanitarian aid after a fire ripped through the area.

People wanted to rebuild their homes but had to be evacuated from the site due to the inclement weather.

A resident, Siyiambonga Nduna, said that he was at work when he received a call from his wife about the fire.

“My wife was at home with our six children but the fire was already too close.

“They could only save a few clothes and our identity books. We are temporarily at my cousin’s house but the house is too full because he also has his own family, it’s a struggle.

“We are hoping that the harsh weather subsides so that we can rebuild.

Municipal officials have already visited and committed to give us materials because some were damaged to a point where you cannot reuse it,” he said.

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In KTC, Nyanga, 51 shacks were gutted, leaving 101 people displaced. One man suffered an injury to his leg.

“The local councillor is engaging the national Department of Human Settlements to discuss plans for rebuilding.

Further to the provision of humanitarian relief by Gift of the Givers, Sassa (the South African Social Security Agency) has also been requested to provide soft relief in the form of blankets, baby packs, vanity packs and food parcels.

“The City’s electricity department switched off electricity supply to the area to safeguard the community until mop-up operations are concluded.

“The department of solid waste is busy removing fire debris from the site,” informed Sonica Lategan of the City’s Disaster Risk Management Centre.

The City’s Charlotte Powell said at least nine properties in the southern peninsula were destroyed by a fire in the Glencairn area on Sunday.

She said that evacuations were under way in Main Road as the fire had also caused rockfalls along the road.

Meanwhile, Blaauwklippen Estate’s iconic buildings such as the 300-year-old Manor House, Jonkershuis and the Cathedral burnt to the ground after a fire broke out on the neighbouring farm early on Sunday.

According to Blaauwklippen management, strong gale-force winds that fuelled the fire mostly contributed to the destruction.

“Six firefighting teams, including Blaauwklippen’s disaster management team together with neighbouring farms were on the scene within minutes to attend to the fire, one of five in the area.

The winds also fuelled the flames of a fire that destroyed some of Blaauwklippen Estate’s iconic buildings. Picture: Ayanda Ndamane/Independent Newspapers

Battling winds of up to 139km/h, thankfully there were no injuries although the destruction was devastating.

“Stellenbosch’s oldest wine farm dates back to 1682, the Jonkershuis was built in 1720, the Manor House in 1789 with the latest addition being the popular wedding venue, the Cathedral, built in 2018.

“It’s a sad day indeed for Blaauw-klippen as heritage landmarks have been destroyed in the terrible blaze, but the sadness is made easier to bear by the gratitude that no lives were lost and we acknowledge the swift evacuation and heroic efforts of our personnel Stefan, Chrisma and their teams, who ensured that no one was injured.

“Due to safety reasons, the property will be closed to the public until further notice,” it said.

Cape Winelands District Municipality (CWDM) spokesperson Anesca Roodt said that the CWDM fire services were supported by the Stellenbosch Municipality to combat the Blaauwklippen fire but by noon the fire remained out of control.

“Fire also continues to burn in Simonsberg, Pniel. Stellenbosch Municipality is on the scene with five vehicles, prioritising containment efforts and protection of structures.

“The fire at Keerweder, Drakenstein, remains uncontained.

One structure has been destroyed, while another has partial damage,” Roodt said. Efforts are focused on protecting remaining structures in the area.

“On Paarl mountain, Drakenstein Municipality, with support from Swartland Municipality, is battling a fire, still out of control.

“Strong winds posing a significant challenge, pushing the fire towards Rhebokskloof,” said Roodt.

Cape Times