DA provincial leader Bonginkosi Madikizela and premier candidate Alan Winde have received a backlash from residents for visiting the Khayelitsha fire victims in party election regalia at the weekend.
The two have been accused of attempting to use the residents’ plight to score political points before next year’s elections.
One person was killed and 1355 people, including children, were left homeless when the fire destroyed 342 structures in Khayelitsha on Saturday.
Tempers flared when Madikizela and Winde showed up in DA colours.
Madikizela yesterday denied they had been chased out of the area. Community leader Asanda Makeli said they were tired of empty promises and politicians politicising their pain.
She said the area had already suffered three fires this month.
“MEC Winde and Madikizela came wearing DA T-shirts, while our councillors and other politicians were not wearing T-shirts.
“Since 2011, we have been told by Madikizela that a number of people would be removed and placed elsewhere because there are many shacks crammed together in a small place.
“We don’t know anything about housing plans. No, they must go and only come when they genuinely want to assist.
“Since we chased them they never came back, and the fire happened at midnight but they only came late in the afternoon. They just want our votes for next year,” she said.
Madikizela said he had attended a Federal Council meeting in Joburg before visiting the fire, while Winde was at a by-election campaign in Worcester.
He said he would not waste time answering to people who accused them of using the event to score political points.
“I am not going to respond to that. I have just explained to you. I am not sure what more you want me to say. Anyone who does not want to politicise this will understand,” he said.
He added that residents understood why he was there, except for one “lunatic” who he said tried to be opportunistic.
“I think people are making something out of nothing. You are trying to give a non-story some legs, because there is no story here,” he said.
Premier campaign chief of staff Odette Cason confirmed that Winde had attended a rally in De Doorns.
ANC provincial secretary Faiez Jacobs said: “Shack fires should not be used for cheap politicking. We condemn them (Winde and Madikizela) going there with their DA regalia. What is needed now is a plan for informal settlements in this season of fire and wind.”
The Social Justice Coalition expressed concern that politicians appeared to be using the fires to gain relevance.
Meanwhile, about 1400 people were affected when a fire destroyed 120 structures in Kosovo informal settlement in Philippi on Saturday night.
This comes after two people were killed and 90 left homeless in a fire in Imizamo Yethu, Hout Bay, on Friday.