Victims of the devastating New Year’s Day fire in Khayelitsha BM Section in 2013, who have been living without electricity for three years, are to finally receive power this month, the City has announced.
The fire which tore through the informal settlement, resulted in three deaths and the destruction of 800 homes, with 331 homes allowed to be temporarily rebuilt on land next to the OR Tambo Hall on Mew Way, a short distance from BM Section.
In a press release, the City stated electrification of the settlement would start on 27 September. The 469 households that were allowed to rebuild on land in BM Section have already been electrified.
However, residents of the 331 OR Tambo households say that there have been a string of broken promises from the City over the last three years, although they welcome electrification.
“We are happy they will give us lights but the City has failed us,” said street committee and SANCO member, Morris Sifu.
He said that when President Jacob Zuma visited the area in January 2013 while the fire victims were still living in the OR Tambo Hall, Mayor Patricia de Lille promised people would be accommodated in Bossasa, near Mfuleni. But that promise was never met, said Sifu and as it turned out the plots De Lille had in mind had already been promised to Mfuleni backyarders.
He said City officials then promised that they would be allocated in the next housing project, but they have not been accommodated in the Delft Symphony Way or N2 Gateway projects.
“I doubt we will ever move out of here without a fight,” said Sifu.
Street committee secretary Mandisa Phindela, pointing to a festering bite wound on her face, said residents want to moved off the land they occupy as they were infested with rats who attacked adults and children while they were sleeping. Additionally, Phindela said the wetlands next to them is polluted.
Ward councillor Monde Nqulwana said the electrification project itself had been delayed numerous times.
“This project was meant to start in April but the City postponed it for June, then August, now finally it’s coming to 27 September and we are hoping it does not change again.”
Nqulwana said the community had a “huge fight” with the City to get the electrification project accepted and was “happy it is finally happening”.