Disaster relief group helps UCT and firefighters

Members of Gift of the Givers with donations, from left, are Rashied Prince, Yolanda Benjamin, Mikah Barnes and Ali Sablay.

The Gift of the Givers, a disaster-relief organisation that has responded to the Table Mountain fire crisis, has been working non-stop since Sunday evening to get help to where it’s needed.

The fire, which started above Philip Kgosana Drive on Sunday morning, tore through Rhodes Memorial and razed the tea room there before spreading towards UCT. The historic Mostert’s Mill and Jagger Library at UCT were destroyed in the blaze.

Operating from the Old Mutual Campus in Pinelands, Gift of the Givers has been coordinating with UCT to supply 4000 displaced students – who had to evacuate without time to pack their belongings – with meals and toiletries.

Gift of the Givers project manager Ali Sablay says they have been delivering breakfast, lunch and dinner to UCT students staying at 29 hotels in Cape Town. “They are in hotels at the Waterfront, the City Bowl, Sea Point and we have dedicated teams to ensure that the students are being fed.”

The organisation also provided firefighters with meals, energy supplements and eye drops and other medication.

Mr Sablay says there has been overwhelming support from businesses and ordinary citizens who have donated food, toiletries, energy drinks, water, cereals, energy bars and clothing.

Some of the donated toiletries and sanitary products.

“The citizens have really shown the spirit of ubuntu and volunteers have been coming by the thousands.”

Because of Covid restrictions, volunteers are organised in shifts to pack food parcels so that there are no more than 100 people on the floor at the time.

UCT vice-chancellor Professor Mamokgethi Phakeng thanked Gift of the Givers and all others who had supported the university during its time of need.