Another fire in Cemetery View claims lives of three people, 2 000 residents left homeless
Paraffin may have been the cause of the fire.
Residents of the Cemetery View informal settlement in Woodlands, Pretoria can be seen rebuilding their homes after a fire on 21 March 2022. Picture: Jacques Nelles
Cemetery View informal settlement residents in Pretoria will have to start rebuilding their homes after a blaze burned down more than 300 shacks.
The fire, which broke out on Saturday night, claimed the lives of three people, including a five-year-old girl, and at least 2 000 people have been left homeless.
Speaking to SABC News on Sunday, City of Tshwane emergency services deputy chief Peter Motolla said the authorities were alerted to the fire just after 8pm.
“We extinguished that fire immediately, but we found that 300 shacks had been burnt out. We started with our search-and-rescue [operation] and we discovered three bodies.
“It was one adult female, one adult male and one child, a five-year-old girl,” he said.
Motolla said disaster management teams were called to the scene to do an assessment and provide social relief to those who have lost their homes and belongings.
He also said paraffin may have been the cause of the fire as it was used for cooking by many of the residents.
“[The incident] is still under investigation,” Motolla continued.
Motolla added that emergency services do not suspect the fire will reignite since the blaze has since been put out completely.
In March last year, more than 400 shacks were gutted in Cemetery View.
Firefighters arrived at the scene to find multiple shacks on fire and flames more than 20 metres high.
One resident told The Citizen at the time that he lost his clothes, blankets, and passport in the blaze.
More recently, five children died in a shack fire at the Itireleng informal settlement near Laudium last month.
Their bodies were burnt beyond recognition.
Growing informal settlements
Gauteng has seen a growing number of informal settlements over the years, according to provincial Human Settlements MEC Lebogang Maile.
There were currently over 700 informal settlements across the province in areas such as Tshwane, Johannesburg and Ekurhuleni since 2016, with most of them being unauthorised.
Maile cited illegal land invasions as one of the root causes behind the increase.
The MEC stressed that government was still committed to eradicating informal settlements as residents needed to be relocated to a safe place.
“Here in the City of Tshwane, as government, we have allocated at least more than R1 billion to firstly provide temporary services because once people are here, you can’t say you are not going to service them because the informally… there are issues of human rights that we must attend to.
“Secondly, there are informal settlements like this one which must be relocated because this place is not habitable. It’s a big challenge for government,” he told reporters on 28 August.