The Salvation Army in South Africa is bringing assistance to some of the thousands of individuals affected by a major fire which over many hours destroyed hundreds of homes in the Masiphumelele settlement, Cape Town. The blaze struck just before Christmas 2020 and has forced more than 5,000 people to leave their homes. The housing, in the Fish Hoek area of the city, is largely informally constructed, densely packed and poorly resourced with amenities.
Working closely with the City of Cape Town authority and other local non-governmental organisations (NGOs), The Salvation Army has identified 1,400 individuals for whom the most pressing needs are emergency food relief, hygiene packs and kits of household equipment to replace that lost to the fire.
Lieut-Colonel Mercy Mahlangu, The Salvation Army’s Divisional Director of Women’s Ministries for the Western Cape, observes that the Masiphumelele community has come together in the crisis. ‘Homes were burnt to the ground,’ she says, ‘which means that some families have lost everything they had. NGOs, individuals and businesses have donated essential items such as clothing, food, blankets, mattresses, bread, etc, and yet there’s still a dire need.’
Salvation Army teams, working with colleagues from the Living Hope organisation in the township, have therefore been on site in the settlement distributing bucket food hampers as well as nutritious ready-to-eat meals. Plastic basins, cooking pots and two-plate stoves have been provided to 350 families, with a similar number receiving hygiene packs including hand soap, face cloths and dental care items such as a toothbrush and toothpaste.
Lieut-Colonel Mahlangu further notes that ‘continued support will also be required when families are placed in temporary shelters’, as plans to rebuild their homes are devised. Mindful of the fact that Masiphumelele is a Xhosa language word meaning ‘let us succeed’, The Salvation Army is keen to work with the community to help it achieve this outcome.
From reports from Southern Africa Territory