Johannesburg residents have been urged to drop off any donations which can assist the victims of a fire that swept through about 500 shacks in Alexandra yesterday.
Residents are urged to donate tinned foodstuff, rice, mielie meal, baby formula, long-life milk, tea, sugar, jam, toiletries, sanitary pads, nappies, school stationery, uniforms, blankets, clothing and crockery at the Sandton and Alexandra fire stations.
According to the City of Joburg, at about 4 pm yesterday the Johannesburg Emergency Management Services (EMS) received an emergency call to assist with a fire in the Greenville informal settlement on Vincent Tshabalala Road in Alexandra.
The Johannesburg Metropolitan Police Department (JMPD) and South African Police Services (SAPS) were also called to the scene to assist.
"On arriving at the scene the firefighters were met with an inferno and immediately began to evacuate the residents in the area to safety.
"EMS dispatched three fire engines to the scene to extinguish the blaze but battled to find a fire hydrant in the area. The only nearby fire hydrant could not be fully used because of low water pressure. The fire engines ultimately had to replenish the water tank every 20 minutes, making several trips back and forth," said the city.
It said the EMS is thankful for the additional water tankers which were provided by the Ekurhuleni Metropolitan Municipality.
The city said is unfortunate that building shacks on top of fire hydrants are common practice in the area. The remaining available fire hydrants are often vandalised.
Member of the Mayoral Committee for Public Safety, Michael Sun, said: "We are devastated to hear of the fire which has left hundreds of Alexandra residents homeless.
"Our firefighters were able to control the blaze under very difficult circumstances. We will ensure that those affected receive assistance and emergency shelters are being arranged by the Disaster Management Unit."
The City's Disaster Management Unit arrived shortly after the fire broke out to assist with temporary emergency shelter at East Bank Hall and other emergency relief.
Organisations like the Gift of the Givers have also been available to assist.
"We thank these organisations, which include the Zaka International Rescue Unit that assisted with efforts to bring down the blaze, Pick n Pay Alexandra for providing foodstuffs to those affected, the Al-Imdaad Foundation for their assistance in the provision of rehabilitation resources for firefighters and Pace Car Rental for assisting with a truck to move household goods.
"We are truly thankful for these kinds of efforts, which are deeply needed by the distressed community. The City together with its relief partners will continue to provide food, blankets, hygiene packs and other materials in order to assist the victims of this devastating fire," said MMC Sun.
Gauteng Premier David Makhura visited the area this morning to speak to all affected families.
He said the provincial government will assist all families with building material as soon as possible.
(With Inputs from South African Government Press Release)