Mercury: Woman set shack alight – report

Woman set shack alight – report
17 June 2009, 11:03
Related Articles

By Nompumelelo Magwaza

Residents of the Kennedy Road informal settlement, in Sea Cow Lake, Durban, spent Tuesday’s public holiday rebuilding their homes after a fire destroyed 100 shacks, leaving 300 people homeless.

A resident, who would not be named, said the fire started at about 1.30am. She alleged that a woman involved in an argument with her partner started the fire.

She heard the woman saying she would burn the man because he had cheated on her.

“She apparently poured paraffin and set their shack alight. We tried to put out the fire but it was too strong,” she said.

Police Superintendent Vincent Mdunge said police had been alerted to the incident by a man who claimed that his girlfriend had set his shack alight.

Mdunge said that officers were stoned by residents when they tried to arrest the woman.

“When the police responded, they were met by an angry crowd of residents who started stoning them and seriously injured two metro police officers.

“One officer sustained serious head injuries and the other minor injuries. They were both rushed to hospital,” he said.

Mdunge said the woman was taken in for questioning and could be charged with arson and attempted murder.

Meanwhile, S’bu Zikode, president of Abahlali Basemjondolo (shack dwellers’ movement) said the fire had been started by a paraffin stove that was left unattended.

He said such fires resulted from the shack dwellers’ lack of access to electricity.

eThekwini housing department head Cogi Pather said the department would provide the residents with building material once the area was assessed.

“Today (Tuesday) was a public holiday and we were unable to get building material for the residents. Tomorrow (today) we will send our team to assess the area and start with the process of rebuilding the shacks,” he said.