Two Lives Lost in a Shack Fire in Bhambayi, Inanda

14 December 2016
Abahlali baseMjondolo Movement SA Press Statement

Two Lives Lost in a Shack Fire in Bhambayi, Inanda

The festive season is the time for most people to gather with families and friends, but for those of us who are poor and living in shacks this is only a dream. We have to watch our shacks so that they do not get burnt while others are celebrating. We have to protect this because it’s all we have.

We also have to safeguard our homes against the illegal evictions that are carried out by the municipality’s land invasion unit. We are still living in shame 22 years post apartheid. It is unfortunate that the very government that our parents entrusted with their vote is still abusing their dignity and their basic human rights. The Freedom Charter committed the liberation struggle to provide land and housing to the people. The right to housing is a right that is enshrined in the Constitution but this right has not been properly addressed by this current government. We are often told that we must be patriotic about our country but how can you be patriotic when your stomach is empty? How can you be patriotic when you do not have a roof over your head? Recently on the 10th of December 2016 the country celebrated 20 years since the Constitution was adopted. This beautiful Constitution has not been properly implemented. This is because the people in power are only interested in serving themselves and their families.

On Saturday the 10th December 2016, on the very same day that the country was celebrating 20 years of the existence of the Constitution, two people in Bhambayi in Inanda, Durban were electrified and killed while trying to assist a neighbour whose shack was burning. This terrible accident took place around 4 a.m. in the morning. The two people whose lives were lost are Bonginkosi Hlanganiso and Zandile Mjaja.

The community in this area has tried on a number of occasions to engage the ward councillor on issues affecting them. One of the issues that they have discussed is that of electrifying the area. Instead of responding to the problems that are affecting the community the councillor becomes arrogant and abusive to the community, calling them names.

Electricity is life; poor people who are living in shacks have the same rights as the middle class and the elite. According to the Constitution we all have the right to basic services. It was only last year that the municipality in eThekwini made it legal to electrify shack settlements. This came after a long struggle for the electrification of the shack settlements. The fact that it too so long to win this struggle for something as basic as electricity is a sign of a government that does not care about the poor and the marginalised people in our country especially those who are living in shacks.

It is very unfortunate that in this country when poor people die in such conditions the media does not report on it. They see this as “not news worthy”. That is why we say as a movement that our lives do not count to the South African government or to other elites as we are left to die a shameful life in shacks.

A memorial service will be held for Bonginkosi Hlanganiso and Zandile Mjaja tomorrow at 6: 00 p.m. at the Gandhi Settlement Park, Ward 52.

Contact the following people for further information:

Blessing Nyoni – 084 6953 205
Thapelo Mohapi – 062 8925 323
Thembani Ngongoma – 084 6139 772