Five people have lost their lives in a fire that swept through Plastic View township in the east of Pretoria in the early hours of Sunday, Rekord East reports.
Tshwane emergency service spokesperson Johan Pieterse said about 200 shacks were destroyed in the blaze.
“It will be hard to determine the cause of the fire because the shacks are not permanent buildings, everything is falling apart there. Many people use heating agents such as candles. We don’t know at this stage where to start searching to determine the source of the fire.”
Pieterse said the the community would be addressed by Minister Dipou Peters later today.
“At this stage we do not know if the people are going to be relocated.”
In the meantime the Moreleta Church that borders the township sent out a message to its congregants asking for help with donations of non-perishable food, clothes and blankets.
“The fire left 600 to 1 000 people without homes or any belongings. Please bring donations or come help at the NG Moreleta Church’s ‘Geelsaal’ until 19:00 on Sunday,” the message reads.
Riaan Klaasen of Bull Security said the fire allegedly started in one of the shacks in Plastic View.
“According to what I’ve heard there was an explosion in one of the shacks. The fire then spread to the rest of the township.”
Netcare911 spokesperson Athlenda Mathe said hundreds of shacks were destroyed by the blaze.
Police and the fire brigade were on the scene.
Mathe said firefighters worked tirelessly for more than three hours to put the fire out. She said dozens of families had been left homeless and were being accommodated at the local church.
Members of the surrounding community collected blankets and tinned food for those affected by the fire.
Dozens of people who sustained minor injuries were treated and transported to various hospitals in the area for further medical care.
— Sheldon Bailey (@Sheriffbailey) July 2, 2016
4 killed after hundreds of shacks burnt down at Plastic View informal settlement in Pretoria pic.twitter.com/kKCod5SvYa
— Netcare911 (@Netcare911_sa) July 3, 2016
In March, Tshwane regional executive director Sello Chipu said residents of the sprawling informal settlement known as Plastic View in Moreleta would be moved to Garsfontein.
Addressing a group of residents about concerns over and problems at the Pretoria East cemetery recently, Chipu, who represents Region 6 of Tshwane, did not elaborate about the metro’s plans for Plastic View.
The informal settlement is home to more than 3 000 people and is situated next to the Moreleta NG Kerk on prime property about 2km from the cemetery.
“We are taking Plastic View to Garsfontein,” was all Chipu said.
He said there were “illegal foreigners” living at Plastic View and home affairs had been engaged in an attempt to find a solution on how to deal with them.
The Tshwane metro has been involved in several court cases for more than 10 years in an attempt to remove the squatters, but Lawyers for Human Rights, representing the informal settlement, has blocked every attempt for resettlement.
“We have a constitution in this country and therefore cannot just remove people at will,” Chipu said at the meeting.
“There are still critical relocation implications and therefore the sought details can only be provided once the legalities have been addressed,” Tshwane spokesperson Lindela Mashigo said in response to enquiries.
“Be mindful that this … it is lengthy as it involves the identification of alternative liveable land and provision of basic services.”
Homeowners associations and residents in the affluent areas around the squatter settlement have been battling for years to have the camp removed, blaming squatters for crime in the area.
A decision last year by the metro to auction off the property on which Plastic View is located was halted at the 11th hour by Lawyers for Human Rights, who lodged a successful urgent application in the North Gauteng High Court.
– Caxton News Service