200 White Location fire victims still homeless after 7 June 2017
A year after the Knysna fires, close to 200 White Location residents who lost their homes say the municipality has not delivered on its promise to build them new homes, despite numerous attempts to raise their grievances.
Nombulelo Hlininika (42) says the fire did not only rob her family of four of what they have worked so hard to acquire but they also now have enemies. “We can’t voice our concerns because there are people who are staunch supporters of our councillor,” she says.
Hlininika says they feel they are being failed by their Ward 4 councillor Velile Waxa and the municipality. “We saw that there were beds donated to people during the fires, refrigerators and food vouchers, but we have no idea where those went.”
At the age of 55, Thobeka Nise had to move back into her parents’ house after losing her home. With tears in her eyes, she says nothing breaks her more than not having a place of her own at her age. “What makes it even more painful is the fact that our loss and our needs are not taken into account.”
Some of them have had to start living out of backpacks with no electricity or toilets and relieve themselves in the fields.
Knysna Municipality’s response is that it, in partnership with provincial government, has worked to ensure that affected residents receive the necessary assistance and to its knowledge, victims have been resettled in temporary homes while awaiting the rebuilding process. It says after the fires the provincial department of human settlements provided funding for 50 Wendy houses to the value of R1.5-million and the municipality also provided 121 informal structures to the value of R630 000.
It also states that the provincial department has given approval for R5.7-million for rebuilding damaged formal houses in this area.
The new homes will be constructed as per the new specifications of Breaking New Ground (BNG) houses and the provincial department is currently dealing with this project.