The Sol Plaatje Satellite Fire Station in Kimberley, Northern Cape, which was built years ago has turned into a white elephant. This has left some of the residents in despair following a number of deaths as a result of shack fires.
Many believe millions of taxpayers’ money have been wasted.
Following much fan fair during the official opening. The satellite fire station has never been operational.
It is now abandoned and fails to fulfil its purpose.
“The houses are burning, shacks are burning here with two people who almost burnt to death and one guy who burnt to death in his own shanty and we had no water to save the guy,” says resident Tumelo Wagter.
Another resident Welminah Fox adds, “The fire station is here but we don’t see anything. It’s not working. They just built it, cleaned it and they just left it like that.”
The station was built to alleviate the burden on the only fire brigade in town meant to service hundreds. However, vandals have reduced a multimillion-rand facility into ruins.
“What I’m asking the government to do to try to open this place because it said the people are not working here. What I see here is the people”, says a security guard working at the station.
Shack fires in this informal settlement have reportedly left one person dead. Two people were hospitalised with serious burn wounds.
Meanwhile, Kimberley’s Sol Plaatje Municipality says work to complete the station will commence in the near future.
Sol Plaatjie Fire Department issue warning on increasing shack fires, 10 June 2021:
In June last year, the Sol Plaatje Fire department and the Northern Cape police issued a warning to residents of informal settlements to be more vigilant in the wake of an apparent increase in shack fires in the province.
At least eight people have died in shack fires in the Northern Cape since the beginning of the year. Seven family members lost their lives in two separate shack fires in Kimberley.