The last week has been rather horrific for the residents of our village. It feels like we are under some sort of siege, there have been back to back fires and other tragedies and chaos.
The drought has continued with a brief respite on Wednesday, however it was just literally a drop in the dry dams and our ground greedily absorbed it. We need a few days of solid rain. Then I wondered if there are still fire victims with no shelter in the rain? Everyone is saying that if you are a foreign national you will get no support if you were a fire victim. Only South Africans will get support. This smacks of xenophobia to me. Yet the government are always criticising the people who exhibit this behaviour. So it is not do as I do, but do as I say? What hypocrisy.
There is a ‘Tent City’ which the City of Cape Town has now set up for the fire victims who have registered for assistance. They put the tents onto the sports grounds.
In my last blog, I mentioned that it was estimated by the guys on the ground that 4-5 thousand people had been displaced by the fire in IY that occurred last weekend.
The crazy thing is that the figure originally reported was only 650 homes and 2 to 3000 people which must have been based on Census figures as we locals all know that the last Census figures vastly underestimate the numbers of people residing in Hout Bay. But late on Sunday after the fire the figures of displaced people and destroyed homes was reported as 3,500 homes, and 15k people displaced.
Fifteen thousand. People with no home, no clothes, many with no belongings at all.
This picture puts things into perspective.
There were 3 people who perished in the fire as well as one who died later in hospital from their injuries. This is such a tragic situation.
The Ngceza Family all passed in the fire and there was a memorial being held for them today.
After the weekend we had hoped the week might bring about peace and calm, but when I drove through the village on Monday morning I looked up and saw flames and smoke were still present on the Harbour side of the bay.
Luckily all of the fires are now out.
On Monday I worked until about lunch time at Canal Walk and then as there should be no traffic midday I decided to come home and work from there the rest of the day . Once I was settled in Norm’s office at home I got a message on Whatsapp to say that there had been a head on collision on the Constantia road coming into Hout Bay and that there was a fatality. We later heard that the driver had survived but was in critical condition and had been hit head-on by a guy who had just lost his home in the fire. The steering went on his car and as the Constantia road is a long stretch of endless curves, he was unable to divert his car off the road and went head on into the oncoming traffic.
Norm was going out when I got home on Monday and he messaged to say he had gone over to Ambleside School as they needed people to help move some of the donations to another location. He was amazed at the number of volunteers and donations which were there.
I had seen on social media that loads of different companies have donated huge amounts of money and donations of various other items. What I find bizarre is the lack of high visibility of anyone from Disaster Management being present to coordinate the efforts until days later. The number of affected people is so astronomical but it all seems to be being predominately managed and coordinated by ordinary people from the community and various NGOs. Our new councillor has been brilliant apparently, working many hours to assist with the relief efforts.
Finally on Tuesday Lindiwe Sisulu, the Human Settlements Minister, and Human Settlements MEC Bonginkosi Madikizela appeared in Hout Bay to allegedly meet with the area leaders. The residents have now agreed to halt the re-building of the shacks until re-blocking can occur and the City can install fire hydrants to reduce the chance of this sort of disaster occurring yet again as this is becoming at least an annual occurrence. The shacks were so closely packed and higgledy-piggledy before the fire that there was no chance of a fire truck getting through. Reblocking is the rearrangement of shacks in informal settlements to widen pathways betweens homes and open up spaces for roads and communal areas. It also involves dismantling structures and rebuilding them with inverted box rib (IBR) galvanised steel sheets, which are fire resistant.
However the area leaders had said that they were not involved in the process despite what the City of Cape Town has said to the press. Reblocking can lead to uprisings and infighting as well, so I hope it is managed carefully to avoid further issues. From the rumours swirling around, people are re-building on the area which the City have said they are going to clear on Monday – there have been multiple protests and clashes of the people who want to start getting their homes built and the city officials charged with keeping the fire site free of any structures.
I hope these efforts improve the lives of the people who live there, I cannot understand why proper houses have not been built. We have been here in Hout Bay for almost 10 years and have seen only 1 block of flats built and that was on the Harbour side, not in the IY informal settlement. The City of Cape Town has pledged R30million on redeveloping Dontse-Yakhu which is the section of Imizamo Yethu which was destroyed.
As always the rumours are bouncing around about arson and who could be behind all of these fires. uMkhonto weSizwe Military Veterans’ Association (MKMVA) chairperson Kebby Maphatsoe has said that the reason behind the fires is land dispossession, which of course feeds into the paranoia and suspicion. The anger towards years of oppression is justified, however misdirected the retaliation may be.
The number of white farmers who are being murdered on a daily basis in South Africa is on the rise. Since the start of 2017, 26 farmers have been brutally murdered. Recent statistics indicate that as many as one farm attack a day occurs across the country. Farmers say they’re under siege, but that government is turning a blind eye. Most of these murders are not publicised, however I have a friend who is from a farming community and she has said that she knows so many families who have been affected. Even Carte Blanche filmed an episode about the increase of murders. You can view it here.
The xenophobia and hate speech originates with the ‘leaders’ of our government.
That is Julius Malema (aka Juju) who has been taken to court for his encouragement of land repatriation without compensation. He has been barred from hate speech about killing the farmers and taking the land.
Occasionally you hear a voice of reason like we heard from the leader of COPE ‘Terror’ Lekota when he addressed Parliament this week.
Race is still a universal area of contention which makes me sad.
We had planned on having a braai on Monday night as it was so hot, but as Norm was busy with relief work Caitlin and I decided to make dinner while he was out. We had bought some delicious figs from a family who deliver them to Hout Bay, they are certainly not banting but it won’t kill us to indulge on occasion. And figs always justify an occasion. We cut a pocket into our chicken breasts and stuffed them with slices of camembert cheese then wrapped them in streaky bacon. We baked our figs in honey and we just made a simple salad with lots of avocado to go with it. The taste of the sweet figs and the lush creaminess of the avocado together is so divine, they are a match made in heaven.
I cannot believe I spent over 40 years avoiding figs like the plague. My views were based on the taste of Fig Newtons which I do not remember fondly from my childhood.
I am really freaky about the texture of foods. Fig Newtons have a grainy sticky texture. Yuck.
But fresh figs? Little clusters of delicious goodness.
Tuesday I was back at our new offices as I have a new project on the go. It is a short duration so will be intense for a few weeks, but I prefer to be a bit busy, it keeps me out of trouble.
Norm is still doing bits and pieces to assist with the rescue operations when he can. He fetches and carries if asked and even dashed off to buy crates of water for the firefighters on Monday. Caitlin, Norm and I had all cleared out some of our clothes which are now too big for us and Norm dropped them off. As many of them are quite new we hope that they find a good home and that they bring benefit to someone else.
I still have more I can cull from my wardrobe, I am just doing it section by section and giving away anything which I have not worn in a while. Rather let someone in need make use of it than to have it sitting in my cupboard as moth fodder.
Tuesday I was back in the city centre office and that night Caitlin was at Wesley. Norm and I decided to braai the sausages we had bought for the previous day and to go with it I just fried some mushrooms and peppers and made another salad. It was so hot outside that this sort of food goes down a bit easier.
I did not bake the figs this time and as they were very ripe and soft I just sliced them gently and added to the salad .
It was all so tasty. I even had enough for lunch the next day and it was just as tasty.
While Norm was braaiing on Tuesday night I made the sauce for cottage pie for the following night. I feel asleep and burnt it a tiny bit but I managed to rescue most of it and then once it was doctored up with the cauliflower mash and cheese it was perfectly edible. I roasted butternut to go with it. As always Pixie was hoping for a dropped morsel.
Tuesday evening while trawling Facebook for entertainment I spotted a gorgeous red Chinese style dresser which I promptly fell into lust for. I messaged the seller and she sent her number and Norm rang and we were the first to ask about it. We made an appointment to pop around after work on Wednesday and it was even more gorgeous in real life. Norm rang our friend Louis who has a truck and he popped over to help Norm collect it and carry it into the house.
It is as if it was made for the spot I put it. I have decorated it with some of my African art.
The 2 figures on the right of the unit are North African fertility figures which I gave Norm when we got married. The bowl in the centre is full of monkey balls. The vases were a house warming gift which I adore. This is right in the front door of my house, and it makes me so happy every time I look at it.
When Norm was driving back from collecting the dresser his engine light came on and his car is making some odd noises. He could only get it into the garage next Thursday so that leaves us with one car until then as he does not want to drive it until it goes to the garage.
That meant he could not get to the shops and I got home from work late so we ended up having a take away (yes we carbed out and lived!). Ha. Whatever, it was delicious. I had a pizza from Massimo’s. I had the Hot Latina. I love me some chili.
It was delicious as always.
Friday morning we awoke to mist like pea soup over the foreshore.
Of course it was on a morning when I had washed my hair and the moisture made me look like I have been drug through a damp hedge. Lovely. However our dry city is so desperate for any moisture I won’t complain. Too much.
On Friday we had nothing to take for breakfast so I ended up going to the little canteen at the back of the Artscape which we have discovered is open to the public.
It does cooked meals which you can take away and is just across the street from us so it is very handy. On Friday after I ordered my food and was waiting for it to be prepared, a white woman came into the canteen and ordered and paid then strode down to the area for yogurt and cereals. She shouted to the woman making my food and the woman acknowledged her but carried on making my order. Angry white woman then starts shouting ‘how long is this going to take??’ while glowering at the staff. They then start to move at the speed of molasses, their own form of silent protest. I just waited until she shut up, then I moved to stand between her and the staff and stared the bitch down until she cottoned onto the fact that she had no support from anyone in the canteen. She then seemed to calm down, but how dare she speak to people the way that she did. After she snatched a spoon out of the hand of the woman serving her and stomped off I commended the women on their professionalism. They said ‘leave her, we are used to it.’ That statement makes me so sad.
If I was in their shoes I would have been tempted to crawl across the serving counter, knife in hand.
But that I why I am not suitable for customer service.
The mist finally cleared by the afternoon and I went for a walk to Food Lovers Market by the train station. It was warm so I did not fancy hot cooked food and so I opted for sushi. I chose the salmon roses for R44 and the avocado and prawn salad for R44.
I liked the salad, it was the first time I had tried it. It had avocado, cucumber, prawns and sushi mayo. It could use a bit more prawn but other than that it was lovely, I will have this again.
Norm and I decided to go out for a drink last night as it was St Paddy’s. We went to Woodcutters Arms but there was no parking so we decided to go for food first. We went to The Indian Oven.
We are very predictable in our choices, we eat there often and love the food. We had poppadoms and onion bahjis to start.
For mains Norm had chicken Korma, I had prawn curry and we shared cauliflower rice and saag aloo which is a rich gorgeous dish of potatoes and creamy spinach.
Afterwards we were too full to drink and the bar was even more crowded so we acknowledged we are old farts and came home to relax. We started watching telly and I was asleep in minutes.
I had to be up and away early today as it was mine and Pixie’s morning to see the chiropractor and we had to leave at 8.30. As it is all uphill mountain roads it can take thirty minutes or almost twice that when stuck behind a heavy vehicle. We had no issues and it was a sunny clear day so it was a pleasant drive. We arrived early and had a cuddle while watching the world go by. Excuse my no-makeup-9am-on-a-weekend face.
After we got home Norm made us a rather delicious low carb/high fat breakfast.
Norm has been doing a bit of the remaining tiling in my kitchen and I am writing. He is now walking the dogs. We found about a fund raiser for the fire victims being held at La Parada, we did not book so we won’t be attending but I hope they raise loads of money for the victims.
We have not decided what we are doing later. I am having lunch with friends tomorrow in Simons Town. I am working from home on Monday and Tuesday is a public holiday so I am looking forward to a few low key days and to not travelling to the city every day.
I hope you enjoy your weekend. x