Family still homeless two years after fire

STILL WAITING: Elgin Steenkamp, who lost his shack to a fire in 2018, has still not received help
Picture: DESMOND COETZEE

When his shack in the Acorn Valley informal settlement was destroyed by a fire two years ago, Elgin Steenkamp never imagined the struggle he and his family would face.

The GO! & Express previously reported that Steenkamp’s shack had burnt down while he and his family were out, destroying their belongings, food and important documents.

All hopes of getting a roof over our heads have vanished

“While at work replacing old carpets at a home in Extension 5 my phone rang, with someone informing me about the disaster at my home.

“My son came running to us with tears streaming down his face, and on our return we found the officials of BCM fire department busy extinguishing the fire.

“But it was already too late to save some of our items,” said Steenkamp.

His wife, Debra, took two of their children and went to stay with family in Breidbach, leaving her eldest son with her husband to look for shelter.

“It was painful to leave my husband and son in Acorn Valley but I didn’t have much choice as there was only space for me and two kids,” she said.

Steenkamp said area committee member Tully Winnaar was very supportive, and was the one who had called the fire department.

Winnaar reported the matter to ward councillor Sixolisiwe Ntsasela to try and access disaster relief for the family.

“I have all the respect for Winnaar who has been trying her level best in assisting us in this unfortunate situation.

“Sadly I cannot say the same about our councillor, whom we have struggled to find at her office after numerous visits,” Steenkamp said.

“South African National Civic Organisation (Sanco) branch executive members also regularly visited us and really took up our fight with relevant stakeholders, but to no avail as there were only empty promises made.”

Sanco ward 44 branch secretary Stacey Gosling said they had brought the matter in writing to the attention of ANC constituency head Xolile Nqatha, and were invited to make submissions, but the exercise proved fruitless.

The family has since erected themselves a shack on the banks of the Yellowwoods River in the bush near Breidbach.

“We ask for water from residents across the streets and relieve ourselves in the bush as there are no toilet facilities here,” said Steenkamp.

“All hopes of getting a roof over our heads have vanished and our kids are living with family members in Breidbach.”

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