Alex fire victims claim church refused to help them

As some locals started digging and hammering corrugated iron and planks to the ground, trying to rebuild their homes, others saw a business opportunity.

“Mkhukhu (shack) for sale” read a freshly printed poster plastered on one shack on the outskirts of the informal settlement.

But for many, buying a new property was currently an impossible task.

It was not only the shacks that were destroyed, but brick and mortar structures built in the informal settlement were also damaged.

Their roofs, mainly made of corrugated iron, had caved in and the blackened DSTV satellite decoders remained.

Meanwhile, the Gift of the Givers had erected several tents in the area, with several of their officials going around, assisting the residents.

Those who had no alternative accommodation were expected to take refuge in these tents overnight.

The locals who had already registered their names with city officials queued outside the Gift of the Giver tents, waiting to get their next meal of the day from the non-profit organisation.

Loaves of bread and soup poured into cups was on the menu on Friday afternoon.

Councillor Oupa Sefako of the EFF told TimesLIVE that according to their database, around 850 residents had lived there.

He was unsure how many had been affected.

Sefako said he was thankful to the Gift of the Givers but expressed disappointment with the EMS officials.

He claimed to have made calls to the fire brigade but was told that they had no fire engines.

Sefako said even when he had arrived at the EMS offices, he was told the same thing.

Asked how he felt about the church not opening its gates to the locals, he described them as “also being human”, saying they would address this issue at a later stage. The pressing matter at hand, he said, was getting the locals houses rebuilt.

TimesLIVE spoke to one resident who said she was at work when she had received a call about the massive fire.

By the time she had arrived, the fire had consumed most of the area and it was impossible for her to go into her house to salvage anything.

The only clothes she was left with were those she was wearing.

The fire meant that she could no longer go home to the Eastern Cape for Christmas or buy anything for her children who were back at home.

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