Johannesburg, South Africa, 9 June 2017. The aftermath of devastating fires continues to affect the lives of thousands of people in the Southern Cape. The areas most affected are Knysna, Plettenberg Bay, Sedgefield and surrounding towns, villages and informal settlements. The fires have been described as the most destructive spread of fire in a built-up area in the province in at least 30 years.  They have caused loss of lives, the destruction of homes, and the evacuation of thousands of people. Given the extent of the tragedy, Vuma Reputation Management is calling on all South Africans to stand together and play their part in helping the communities whose lives have been devastated.

“This is a national emergency,” says Janine Hills, CEO of Vuma Reputation Management and a member of the board of Brand South Africa. “Fire is a tragic, unexpected and traumatic experience that can leave you without your home, your valuable or sentimental possessions, and even your pets.

“Having grown up in the area, I know some of the families and communities affected, and to witness the extent of the destruction is truly heart-breaking,” she says. “It’s at times like these that we have to roll up our sleeves and get involved. We encourage all South Africans to gather together and help the affected communities in whatever way they can.”

The Southern Cape fire services and disaster management teams are doing incredible work, but others need to get involved, as displaced fire victims start to rebuild their lives, Hills added.

By donating basic necessities such as clothing and household items, everyone can do their bit to help a family get back on their feet.

Here are some of the simple ways Hills suggests that ordinary citizens can assist:

  • Take a family in if their home has been destroyed
  • Feed a family
  • Provide people with sandwiches, tea and coffee
  • Offer basics like toothbrushes, facecloths and bottled water
  • Hand out blankets, sleeping bags and warm clothes
  • Provide support and food for emergency teams who are working hard
  • Be kind and gentle with people – they are in a state of trauma
  • Donate loyalty points from eBucks, Pick ‘n Pay, Woolworths, and Spar, for example.
  • Donate supplies like tinned food at supermarket collection points
  • Offer your service through community initiatives
  • Donate to legitimate local disaster-relief organisations. The Knysna Lions have set up the Knysna Lions Fire Fund, for example.
  • Contact Gift of the Givers, or your nearest Makro store to make a donation.

The Vuma Reputation Management team is donating essential items like nappies, baby formula, wet wipes, tinned food, blankets, and pet food, and urges other companies to follow suit.

Hills stresses that people from all walks of life – from the poorest to the wealthiest communities – have been affected. “Recovering from a fire takes a long time, and continued support will be needed to help affected families transition back to a normal life,” says Hills. “This disaster provides us with an opportunity to stand together and show our humanity towards others.” #play-your-part.



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