Kayamandi Fire: What’s next?

Over the weekend, a small township in the Western Cape of South Africa, Kayamandi, was burned down by a small stove that was left on in a house and ended up spreading across the town. An entire township burned down, thousands of people are left homeless, two dead, and a lot of unanswered questions. 

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Although situations happen ever so often in townships, this current event hit so close to home because I stayed really close to this township during my 6-month stay in South Africa, while visiting a few people that i knew in that village. I can’t possibly imagine going back and not seeing the village the same way i left it, let alone the thousands of people who don’t have any homes there as well.

DSCN0358Stellenbosch is known to be one of the richest towns in the Western Cape that used some of the people who lived in Kayamandi to do temporary work in that area. Because these two towns are so near to each other, you would expect Stellenbosch to openly give a helping hand to the burned down community, right? WRONG.

The day after the fire, a statement was released from the council members of Stellenbosch reporting what specifically happened, but there was nothing that the Stellenbosch fire department can do, considering the fact that Kayamandi was “too hazardous” for their trucks to help put out the fire. Meanwhile, the residents of these homes were  putting out the fire themselves with towels and scarce amounts of water.

Considering the fact that this community is the backbone to the one of the richest communities in that province, why does the council of Stellenbosch thinks it is okay to turn their backs on Kayamandi?

Of course their are small groups and organization working towards rebuilding this community, BUT WHERE IS STELLENBOSCH?

If this doesn’t seem like the American government’s reaction to New Orleans during the catastrophic hurricane, then I don’t know what does.  We’ve got to do better.

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