Joe Slovo is a shack settlement in the township of Langa in Cape Town. Around 3 500 people live there without proper sanitation or infrastructure. They depend on communal taps for water and portable toilets for sanitation – the state of some is inhumane. When a fire broke out over the Easter weekend, about 500 families lost their homes in the devastation.
“The Joe Slovo informal settlement in Cape Town has faced the recurrent threat of fire over the past decade, a risk aggravated by poverty, inadequate infrastructure and the ongoing influx of informal residents.” This is an excerpt from a research paper by the Disaster Mitigation for Sustainable Livelihoods Programme at the University of Cape Town, published in 2002.
The sentiment is no different on the ground, with residents citing poverty and a lack of infrastructure as the reasons for the recurring fires in the settlement. Residents and community leaders in Joe Slovo have been fighting for the development of the area since 2008. In 2007, residents stood up to forced removals to Delft, a township on the outskirts of Cape Town. Some have been waiting to be allocated an RDP house for more than a decade or longer.
These are the people and families starting from scratch again after the most recent fire.