Mercury: Residents battle after fire guts 80 shacks

Residents battle after fire guts 80 shacks

July 16, 2008 Edition 1


RESIDENTS of the Kennedy Road informal settlement in Clare Estate, Durban, are still waiting for building material to be delivered so they can rebuild their lives after a fire gutted 80 shacks on Monday morning.

Officials who visited the area yesterday sparked an angry reaction from the displaced people, who had expected building material to be delivered after about 200 people were left destitute.

Thembuyise Mbanjwa said: “We are scattered everywhere and the municipality promised to provide us with building material, but they have failed to deliver. We are now forced to gather the pieces of our burnt shacks in order to have a roof over our heads.”

Vumile Nzimande said that a tent provided by disaster management officials had been placed on a wet area, making it impossible for them to occupy it during the cold night. They had had to find alternative accommodation with friends and family. Those who had nowhere to go spent the night in a community hall.

A list of residents affected by the fire had been compiled by Thokozani Mthwana of Abahlali Basemjondolo (the shack dwellers’ organisation).

“About 90 children have registered. Their names will be given to the Red Cross for assistance,” he said.

Mthwana said most of the affected children could not attend school as their uniforms and books had been destroyed.

Vanesh Gokal, principal of Burnwood Secondary School, said the fire had affected school attendance.

“We are appealing to parents, teachers and the government to donate everything they have to the school so that we can assist our pupils,” he said.

While at the scene The Mercury watched children helping their parents rebuild their shacks with remnants from the fire.

The eThekwini Municipality has called for a meeting to discuss how the displaced people will be assisted.