The immense response to the Cape Town fire from across government, civil society and the private sector has been incredible. In particular, I would like to thank businesses in Cape Town, especially those in the tourism and hospitality industry, who have stepped up to quickly assist those affected by the fire, especially University of Cape Town (UCT) students who had to be evacuated from their residences.
Through the co-ordination efforts of FEDHASA and Ubuntu Beds, over 29 accommodation businesses provided 560 rooms to almost 1 000 UCT students on Sunday, 18 April 2021, and the support continues to increase. Ongoing accommodation will be provided to students until such time as they are able to return to their residences.
Old Mutual have offered their premises in Pinelands as a collection point for donations and their kitchen facilities as a base for the preparation of over 12 000 meals which have been distributed by Gift of the Givers and Hospital Heroes to the students.
Restaurants and fast-food outlets such as Den Anker, Burger King, Tigers Milk, City Grill Steakhouse and others are also providing meals to UCT students.
In fact, just this morning I had the privilege of visiting Den Anker to meet with management and the team working hard to provide meals to the students. With the assistance of donors, they’ve already provided 40 meals to students on Sunday night and 350 meals on Monday night.
I also visited Makers Landing and met with representatives from the V&A Waterfront to hear about their efforts to feed students from the venue – since Sunday over 4 000 sandwiches have been made and 1 000 lunches, 1000 dinners and 1000 breakfasts have been served.
Makers Landing is also available to students as a work space with free wi-fi, and the V&A Waterfront are providing personal care items to the students that are currently being housed in temporary accommodation at Breakwater Lodge.
Other retailers and brands such Massmart, Engen, The Foschini Group, Woolworths, Pick n Pay, Shoprite, Pioneer Foods, Blue Ribbon bread and Coke have also offered donations and supplies, while Uber and Bolt have provided free trips to transport students and deliver meals, and we are grateful to them for their support as well.
These are just a few examples of the many impressive efforts made by the private sector, many of whom have been hard-hit by the Covid-19 pandemic yet are showing great initiative to support our fire-fighting heroes and those displaced by the fire.
These efforts could also not have been achieved without the help of hundreds of volunteers who have given generously of their time to assist.
This comprehensive and immediate response to the crisis is also a result of lessons learnt and systems implemented to accommodate healthcare workers and stranded international tourists during the Covid-19 pandemic.
While the Cape Town fire has caused great damage to property and the irreplaceable loss of historical works and important research, the cost of which will only be full counted in the days and weeks to come, the efforts of business to step up and assist in this moment of crisis are welcomed and are certainly a positive during this tragedy.
DAVID MAYNIER – WESTERN CAPE MINISTER OF FINANCE AND ECONOMIC OPPORTUNITIES