Piece by piece people rebuild their lives

Within the first week in January the Mustadafin Foundation, an NPO in partnership with the city’s disaster management, was running up and down in the early hours of the morning through late nights providing relief to those who lost their belongings in fire. A total of over 5000 structures in the city of Cape Town were damaged or destroyed by fires between Jan and Dec, affecting 14374 people and claiming the lives of 97 people.


Project: gel stoves

In partnership with CPUT the foundation introduced  the gel stove in the township of Kosovo as an intervention to reduce the amount of fire incidents that are caused by paraffin stove.150 cost effective, healthier and safer stoves were issued to the Blankets,

WE SUPPLY RELIEF IN: Cooked Meals, Vanity Packs, Baby Packs, Food Parcels, Matrasses, Clothing residents

 Blaze kills 2, leaves 4 000 homeless (01 December 2015)

A FIRE wreaked havoc, leaving a trail of destruction through Masiphumelele, near Kommetjie, in the early hours yesterday, killing two people, destroying about 800 structures and leaving more than 4 000 people homeless.

Firefighters, who struggled for five hours to extinguish the blaze because the houses were built too closely together, could not save Xolisani Ketse and his girlfriend, Thembisa Jerry, both of whom were trapped inside their wooden structure.

Two single-storey formal houses, as well as a double-storey formal house, were also badly damaged.

Firefighters, using 14 fire-fighting vehicles, finally brought the blaze under control at mid-morning yesterday.

Bukelwa Gaca, whose house adjoined the one in which Ketse and Jerry lived, said she had lost everything, including her clothing, furniture and money.

Gaca said she was concerned about the welfare of her five-year-old daughter Zubenathi and her nephew Sibusiso, also five – although she was extremely relieved that they had escaped the blaze unscathed.

She said her plans to spend her holidays in the Eastern Cape with family had been ruined.

“I woke Xolisani and his girlfriend and I thought they had left the house. I was shocked when their bodies were discovered inside the structure. What happened is sad,” she said.

Nkosinathi Khuba, 40, who suffered minor burn wounds on his arms, said he managed to save some clothing and furniture. He said it was the second time in two months that he had become a victim of a fire in the settlement.

On October 21, his house was partially damaged in a blaze that also damaged or destroyed 300 other houses.

“Every now and then this place experiences a fire. It’s like it is cursed,” he said.

After the fire, Pick n Pay announced that it had placed donation trolleys in its stores at Long Beach Mall, in Tokai and in Constantia Village for those who wished to donate non-perishable food and clothing to the fire victims.

Pick n Pay said it had also donated R20 000 towards disaster relief and was working with City Disaster Management.

Police spokesperson Frederick van Wyk confirmed the deaths of Ketse and Jerry. He said an inquest docket had been opened.

Social Development MEC Albert Fritz said the fire was one of the worst in the province this year. “Of great concern is the rise in the number and severity of incidents of fires at informal settlements.”

This past weekend alone there had been three other fire incidents. A total of 56 houses were destroyed by a fire in Nkanini in Khayelitsha.

In Joe Slovo informal settlement in Langa, a 41-year-old died and 125 houses were destroyed, leaving about 500 people homeless. In Bloekombos in Kraaifontein, a fire destroyed one house.

Anyone who would like to help can contact Social Development NGO partner Merci Net at 072 345 3939. The contact person is Marti. The hotline is 0800 220 250.

The Mustadafin Foundation can be contacted at |021 633 0010/633 0060 


  • 2014 is the year that left many people displaced due to fires and floods in the Western Cape, particularly in the Cape Town region.
  • Even though the year started calmly in terms of incidents due to the rain coming later than usual years but Mustadafin was kept busy with floods and fires.
  • Our hardworking team and dedicated volunteers worked early hours of the morning until late at night to oversee more than 6 affected areas like Phillipi, Strand and Khayelitsha.
  • We distributed over 58 967 blankets, 898 food parcels, 504 baby packs, 99 090 brunches, 13 9846 suppers, 598 vanity packs, mattresses and clothing.
  • Sadly, the foundation had to end the year with the death of two babies and a family of four, all who died in fire incidents.


  • The New year started with a bang…literally. Khayelitsha was ravaged by a fire affecting 3500 people. With only three staff members available, we cooked for those displaced on New Years day. By the end of February 1000 people remained in the OR Tambo Hall. The President and the Mayor of CT have promised to have all victims integrated by October 2013.
  • With two cold front and gale force winds hitting Cape Town in mid April, the first response to flood victims has been earlier than usual. We call upon community support for blankets and dry foods to assist in alleviating their plight.
  • Flood relief continued through out June, July and August with the last floods in late November.
  • Christmas hopes were extinguished when a fire gutted the homes of 1500 people in Valhalla Park. The city called on Mustadafin Foundation to host a Christmas lunch to bring some comfort to those affected.(See photo Gallery)


  • 2012 was a much busier year than 2011. What made it tougher was the number of deaths, a staggering 44 fatalities were reported. Of particular tragedy were the 17 babies and toddlers included in this figure.
  • We distributed 38 340 blankets, 538 food parcels, 31 353 brunches, 58 340 suppers and 187 baby packs
  • These figures are 40% up from 2011
  • The fire season started early, as we had to deal with a large number of fire victims during November. By December we had attended to 1123 fire victims.


  • On the 28th of September 2008 at 10pm we were activated by Disaster Risk Management to serve hot meals to 600 Xenophobia victims at Killarney racetrack
  • within the next two days, more and more attacks occurred and the numbers grew to over 28 000 by the end of the first week
  • Victims were set up at seaside camping resorts and community halls all over the Western Cape
  • Comparatively, logistics in 2004 seemed like a walk in the park as victims were scattered across 13 different sites. With the assistance of The City of Cape Town we were able to deliver 2 meals per day to all 28 000 victims
  • We set up a 30m x 10m cooking tent to accommodate the cooking, close to 100 x 100lt pots of food were cooked on a daily basis
  • We also had to deal with  10-12 different cultural groups and that meant different eating habits which presented new challenges
  • We experienced flash floods during the same period and for 11 days we cooked for an additional 45 000 people
  • We served close to 7million suppers and the same number of brunches at a cost of close to R8 000 000.
  • The camps and community halls were eventually closed and victims returned to their communities after their safety could be guaranteed.
    This operation lasted 8 grueling months


  • In January 2004 12 000 people were left homeless by a devastating fire that swept through the Joe Slovo informal settlement
  • Fire fighters battled for an entire night to bring the fire under control. Their efforts were hampered by victims who built their shacks on fire hydrants
  • Shacks built too close to each other also prevented fire trucks from reaching the affected areas
  • Victims were housed in huge tents which provided no privacy and little safety to families. Acts of rape and other sexual abuse took place and  in most cases went unreported
  • This operation required extended resources and manpower as as school children needed to be fed before school meaning out team start operations at 5am daily.
  • By 10am brunch was served to the rest of the victims and suppers at 5pm
  • We dealt with queues a kilometer long, serving food every morning andevery night
  • More than 1 million hot meals and brunches were served during this period
  • Relief was eventually ceased 6 months later when most victims were moved to temporary homes primarily in the Delft area


  • A tornado, a first for Cape Town, hit parts of Surrey Estate and  Gugulethu but the worst hit area was Manenberg
  • Thousands of people were left homeless as most of their houses were reduced to a heap of rubble
  • The Mustadafin Foundation was the first organisation on the scene to assist victims. We provided hot meals, clothing and shelter in wendy houses.
  • When all emergency units had left the area The Mustadafin Foundation remained behind, assisting the victims until their lives returned to normal almost six months later.
  • Today most of the victims have been relocated to RDP homes, a process that took almost 7 years.