12 November 2017
Abahlali baseMjondolo Press Statement
Foreman Road Settlement Devastated by Fire – a Child has Died
Today at around 1:30 am in the morning a fire broke out in the Foreman Road Settlement in Clare Estate, Durban. The fire started when a candle fell and ended up burning the Xulu family home. We have just heard that a two year old child in the Xulu family has died in hospital. Other members of the family are in a critical condition at King Dinizulu Hospital. Around eight hundred families have been affected by the fire.
Our movement has been struggling to politicise shack fires for more than ten years, and to organise, mobilise and build alliances against the oppressive conditions that cause shack fires. Shack fires are a result of the unequal distribution of urban land, the failure to provide basic services like water and electricity to people and the inhuman conditions in which people are forced to live, including structures built very close together and made of highly flammable materials.
Comrades in the Foreman Road settlement have been part of the struggle to politicise shack fires and to oppose the oppressive conditions that lead to shack fires for more than ten years. This community, like others, has suffered numerous fires in that time. This is also the very same community where a 2 week old baby Jaden Khoza was killed as a result of inhaling the teargas from the police in May this year. On that day the community was protesting for electricity. If free and safe electricity had been provided this fire, caused by a candle, would not have happened.
We are left to burn because our lives count for nothing in this society. A society that does not recognise our lives as human lives, as lives that must count the same as all other lives, is an oppressive society that must be replaced.
We struggle for radical land reform, including in the cities, that puts the social value of land before its commercial value. We struggle for services and decent housing for all. We struggle for a society in which every human life counts as a human life.
We are very saddened by the fact that during the panic of the fire some young men assaulted a member of the fire department while trying to control a fire hose to ensure that their homes were protected. This was a disgraceful act and our movement takes a clear position against it. We need to work together when fighting fires and to work closely with the fire department.
We continue to advance and protect the interests of the impoverished and oppressed, especially those who live in shacks like the Xulus. The struggle continues.
Mqapheli Bonono 0730673274
Thapelo Mohapi 0628925323