Petrol bomb may be be­hind Cape Flats fire

Gang raid on ri­vals ‘started’ blaze

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - NEWS - KOWTHAR SOLOMONS

A PETROL bomb at­tack dur­ing a gang raid has been blamed for the fire in Val­halla Park which en­gulfed 350 shacks, and left 1 500 peo­ple home­less on Mon­day.

Yes­ter­day res­i­dents at the site claimed that mem­bers of the Out­laws gang were search­ing for mem­bers of their ri­vals, the Rude Boys.

When they couldn’t find any of the mem­bers, they al­legedly threw a petrol bomb at a shack be­lieved to be home to a Rude Boys mem­ber.

The fire spread and en­gulfed the shacks as res­i­dents fran­ti­cally scram­bled to save what lit­tle they could. Yes­ter­day the smell of smoke still hung heavy in the air, as res­i­dent Bren­dan Meyer, now liv­ing in a makeshift tent made of a few fab­ric sheets, wood and cor­ru­gated plas­tic, claimed that Out­laws gang­sters had threat­ened to burn down the homes of any­one who tried to re­build.

“Most peo­ple are sure they started the fire, but ev­ery­one knows of the Out­laws’ threat to start another fire. Peo­ple haven’t re­ally tried to re­build again, al­though I don’t know if it’s be­cause of the threat or (if) they ex­pected the City of Cape Town to pro­vide new homes.”

The fire and the dam­age have ig­nited a po­lit­i­cal spat be­tween the DA and the ANC, af­ter po­lice were stoned on Thurs­day while mon­i­tor­ing a group of fire vic­tims who burnt tyres and smashed traf­fic lights on Robert Sobukwe Drive.

Po­lice used rub­ber bul­lets to dis­perse the crowd, but also hurled the stones and bricks back at the vic­tims.

Speak­ing at the site yes­ter­day, ANC pro­vin­cial leader Mar­ius Frans­man said the chaos was the re­sult of a “bro­ken prom­ise” to pro­vide tem­po­rary con­tain­ers for the vic­tims.

“The vic­tims were ex­pect­ing con­tain­ers, but in­stead they got starter kits. For years th­ese peo­ple have been wait­ing for homes. Their des­per­a­tion and frus­tra­tion with the starter kits boiled over and led to the protest. The City of Cape Town must get its act to­gether and help th­ese peo­ple,” he said.

He also threat­ened le­gal ac­tion against JP Smith, mayco mem­ber for safety and se­cu­rity, over al­le­ga­tions he said Smith made that the ANC had in­cited res­i­dents to at­tack po­lice.

Smith coun­tered that he would wel­come any le­gal ac­tion by Frans­man, and would “ex­pose Frans­man and his cronies”.

“The city, while ac­cel­er­at­ing its plans to ser­vice the land and build on the plots once they can af­ford to do so, never promised to de­liver con­tain­ers as it is na­tional pol­icy to is­sue the starter kits. Yet only the Western Cape does this.

“This was most likely just another at­tempt by the ANC to rile up the fire vic­tims. I en­cour­age Frans­man to pur­sue le­gal ac­tion and we will bring him to face jus­tice,” Smith said.

On the gang fight al­le­ga­tions by the fire vic­tims, Smith said any ev­i­dence as to the source of the fire had been de­stroyed by those who had tried to move back on to the land.

“Ac­cord­ing to an in­ves­ti­ga­tion by the Fire and Res­cue Ser­vices Depart­ment, no trace of the source was left af­ter some peo­ple tried to move back on to the land, and it would be vir­tu­ally im­pos­si­ble to iden­tity the cause. How­ever, we’ve had our own al­le­ga­tions of ar­son, and are fol­low­ing th­ese up,” he said.

Fire vic­tim Jac­ques Had­don said he could do noth­ing now but look at the piece of land that had once been his home.

“I lost ev­ery­thing, my clothes, fur­ni­ture and even my dog.

“Peo­ple are get­ting sicker by the day, and while we ap­pre­ci­ate all the help from ev­ery­one, we need real homes.”

The vic­tims have re­ceived help from Pick n Pay, which do­nated R20 000, along with R10 000 from Jamiatul Ulama South Africa.

The So­cial Se­cu­rity Agency of South Africa (Sassa) dis­trib­uted 350 care pack­ages and is as­sist­ing with the re­place­ment of de­stroyed doc­u­ments.

The Gift of the Givers Foun­da­tion also do­nated 350 mat­tresses and new clothes.

kowthar.solomons@inl.co.za

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