Up To Five Hundred People Left Homeless in the QQ Fire Last Night

Wednesday, 08 December 2010
Abahlali baseMjondolo of the Western Cape Press Statement

Up To Five Hundred People Left Homeless in the QQ Fire Last Night



The fire that raged through the QQ Section shack settlement in Khayelitsha last night has destroyed up to 100 shacks leaving as many as 500 people homeless. Most people have lost everything including ID books, work clothes, school uniforms, medication and family photographs.

The community built and run crèche has also been destroyed.

We are appealing for immediate help for the people who have been left destitute in this fire. As a movement we are struggling for justice and not charity but in a time of crisis we embrace the generosity of others.

It is rumoured that this fire was started by a self-organised electricity connection. Our movement has been organising around the questions of electricity and fire in Durban for many years. Our position is that:

1. The major cause of shack fires is the fact that shack settlements are not electrified and therefore, as a matter of urgency, all shack settlements must be electrified.

2. When the state fails to electrify shack settlements or simply refuses to electrify them at all then people have a right to electrify their own shacks. However it is essential to draw a clear distinction between badly made and dangerous connections installed in an ad hoc manner and well organised, well made and safe connections. A well organised community structure can electrify a settlement safely.

We do not accept that shack fires are natural disasters. Shack fires are the result of the social abandonment of the poor. We will continue to politicise shack fires and we will continue to fight for our full social inclusion in this society. That means that while we fight for land and housing we are also demanding the immediate electrification of all shack settlements as a matter of extreme urgency. Where the state fails to respond the shack fire crisis adequately – and an adequate response must include immediate electrification – we will encourage all communities to organise their own connections in a collective, disciplined and safe manner. Neither the struggle for justice nor the self organised responses to surviving injustice can move forward without proper organisation. We are encouraging all communities to democratise their settlements and to elect accountable and recallable leadership outside of party structures so that the collective, bottom up and responsible self management of settlements and the struggle for the full right to the city for all can be taken forward.

For updates and comment from QQ section please contact:

Mr. Qona 076 041 0057
Mbongeni 076 981 6945
Mzonke 073 256 2036