The City of Johannesburg’s Member of the Mayoral Committee for Public Safety, Councillor Sello Lemao, on Tuesday December 8 handed over about 150 para-safe stoves to women-headed households at the Denver informal settlement in a move that will limit the risk of shack fires in the city.
The handover of the innovative para-safe stoves came after 250 families at the informal settlement, east of Johannesburg, were left homeless when a raging fire razed their shacks to the ground on Tuesday last week. The fire apparently started when a primus stove in one of the shacks toppled over, setting the dwelling alight. The fire then quickly spread through the high-density informal settlement, destroying the shacks and leaving scores of people destitute.
The victims, mostly women, lost all their belongings in the deadly fire. They were temporarily accommodated at a nearby hall after the tragedy.
On Tuesday, MMC Lemao commiserated with the affected residents as he handed out the para-safe stoves to the female residents of the informal settlement “in the spirit of the 16 Days of Activism against Violence on Women and Children”.
He told the affected families that the City “will never abandon you in your hour of need”. The locally produced para-safe stoves, which have been approved by the South African Bureau of Standards (SABC), have been designed in such a way that they automatically switch off when they accidentally topple over, killing the fire.
Obakeng Shuping of the Johannesburg Emergency Management Services said para-safe stoves were a practical way of creating public safety in communities and in mitigating “future problems”.
Community leader Hloniphile Khumalo said: “People are appreciative of the little they have received from the City.” MaNgubane Chelele, a single mother of six, said she was delighted to own a para-safe stove.
“The threat of a fire in our settlement has now been minimised. We’re now going to sleep peacefully at night,” she said.