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Christmas Day Blazes Leave Cape Flats Families Destitute

Multiple Christmas Day Fires Destroyed Homes in Four Elsies River & Ravensmead Wards with Residents Desperately Needing Help

A Backyard Dwelling on fire earlier this December Image Recieved via Community Worker

The high winds sweeping the Cape Peninsula on Christmas Day combined with the high density of ‘Backyard Dwellers’ on the Cape Flats is a potentially deadly combination when a fire breaks out.

Multiple house fires on Christmas Day in four separate wards in Elsies River and adjacent Ravensmead, as well as fires in the days leading up to Christmas, have community workers scrambling to give assistance.
The final numbers for the affected families and individuals are still not available for publication.


Previous fires during the month of December have destroyed multiple homes in Leonsdale, Ravensmead and Uitsig. Those included backyard dwellings and freestanding main houses.
Community workers say they are unable to determine whether there were more fires than what they were made aware of.

Backyard Dwellers is a  term mostly used to describe tenants living in informal buildings such as Wendy Houses or Wood-and-Iron structures aka ‘sinkhuise’ in the backyard of a main formal dwelling, Most backyard dwellers are totally anable to access formal state housing or private housing options.

Yesterday’s multiple Christmas Day blazes has left more Cape Flats families destitute. As backyard dwellers these families are mostly already at an economic disadvantage and at what is supposed to be a joyous time of the year has brought them disaster.


According Steve Ross of the community organisation Inspire Alliance, they are coordinating relief efforts through community workers affiliated to their organsation in each of the four wards.

“The four affected wards are Ravensmead – Ward 10; Uitsig – Ward 25; Leonsdale – Ward 26; and Trinity Place – Ward 42. We have affiliates in each of those wards working directly with the people who need assistance ”

“Unfortunately the City Council doesn’t supply building materials anymore for homes that are burnt down, so families are often left destitute and without a roof over their heads, unless they cram into family or friends’ places.”

“You can make a difference in these people’s lives, by donating clothes, blankets and building materials. They also need to eat, so donations of meals and food items are always highly appreciated.”

Multiple Christmas Day Blazes has left Cape Flats Families Destitute – Image Recieved in Elsies River Community WhatsApp Group

With summer heat and high winds, house fires, particularly between densely packed backyard dwellings such as Wendy Houses often spread rapidly. In some cases, those fires also ignite other building like formal separate entrance dwellings or the main house on the property.

We at are unable to determine iwhether it was only backyard dwellings affected or if free-standing homes were also lost to fires.

Community Worker Contact Details

Anyone wishing to offer any form of assistance to the Elsies River and Ravensmead residents affected by the Christmas Day fires are welcome to contact the following community workers.

Ward 10 – Ravensmead
Naomi Alexander

Ward 25 – Uitsig
Stanley Fester

Ward 26 – Leonsdale
Veronica De Wee

Ward 42 – Trinity Place
Berenice Petersen

What do you think?

Written by Ryan Swano

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