CAPE TOWN: The onset of winter usually brings with it a spike in shack fires, as many residents have no choice but to rely on paraffin stoves and heaters to protect themselves from the cold.
President Cyril Ramaphosa has described the death of five boys in a blaze at the Masiya informal settlement in Philippi as a tragedy that highlights the dangers faced by thousands of vulnerable South Africans, especially during winter.
The onset of winter usually brings with it a spike in shack fires, as many residents have no choice but to rely on paraffin stoves and heaters to protect themselves from the cold.
“This tragedy touches and affects all of us as South Africans, especially as we mark Youth Month during which our nation’s attention is focused on creating a better life for young people.
“Since 1994, government has made significant strides in the development of human settlements, but tragedies such as this remind all of us of the hard work yet to be done to ensure that there is housing, security and comfort for all South Africans,” he said in a statement.
At least 17 people, many of them children, have died in shack fires since the start of May in Cape Town.
Ramaphosa adds government will do its best to assist the affected families.
“My prayers and thoughts – and those of government and all South Africans – are directed to the families who have been affected by death and displacement at the Masiya settlement. As government, we will do our best to assist the affected families. We will also work with communities to promote safety measures at a time when many families use various forms of fuel and heating to keep warm.”
The deceased are five boys between the ages of one and 14. A woman also suffered severe burn wounds. Police are probing the cause of the fire that left 30 people homeless.
Authorities are also investigating the cause of a blaze that broke out in the Enkanini informal settlement in Khayelitsha on Friday in which two children were killed.