Jadhu Place on Fire Again

27 June 2012
Abahlali baseMjondolo Press Statement

Jadhu Place on Fire Again

Abahlali baseMjondo’s ongoing struggle for land and decent housing for all shack dwellers and other poor people remains the most urgent demand.

This is the season of fire, the season of shack fires, the season of great humiliation and despair, the deadly season. Those who have always criticized the victims of the shack fires as drunkards, unthinking and thieves of electricity would be blind not to understand the truth and the politic of shack fires. We burn, year after year, because we are denied electricity and because we are denied decent housing. When we carefully connect ourselves to electricity the state sends armed men to disconnect us. When we formalise our own shacks the state sends armed men to demolish them. We are forced, sometimes at gun point, to live as we do.

Jadhu Place, a shack settlement in Springfield Durban, has been on fire since 1 a.m. yesterday morning. About 200 people have been left homeless by a fire believed to have been caused by a paraffin stove. This morning at about 9 a.m. the same settlement has just been on fire again. This is very worrying because this section of shacks are government shacks that were built by eThekwini municipality after a big shack fire that ruined the settlement three years ago. Government shacks, called amathini by the people and ‘transit camps’ by the government, are supposed to be the solution to shack fires. But while they work very well to bring shack settlements under government control as the councillors and their committees control the allocation of the amathini they do not work to stop fires. Fifteen government shacks in the transit camp were on fire this morning leaving about 50 people homeless. We can only be grateful that no one got burnt or injured except for one asthmatic person who had to be treated for inhalation difficulties.

Abahlali has always argued that transit camps are not fit for human beings, are not an adequate alternative accommodation and should not be counted as ‘housing opportunities’. In fact they should be recognised as a form of oppression.

The residents of Jadhu Place are sick and tired of the lies of the ANC. It is high time that the failed ANC PROMISES for ‘a better life for all’ are exposed. Right now residents of Jadhu Place are gearing up to take their struggle back to the streets. For too long we have been lied to and for too long we have demanded housing but only given amathini. We call upon the eThekwini Municipality to urgently provide the decent housing promised many years ago. We call upon the eThekwini Municipality to recognise that shack fires are not a result of our ignorance but are an inevitable result of the conditions in which we are forced to live and to urgently call all membership based shack dweller’s organisations to a city wide meeting to discuss practical solutions to address the long crisis of shack fires. If they continue to fail to take the crisis of shack fires seriously we will continue to conclude that our lives do not count to them.

It is not clear right now whether the municipality’s Disaster Management will assist with rebuilding materials and all that is needed by the people that have been left homeless or not. All we know is that they have attended those victims of Tuesday morning with the usual few blankets and tin stuffs. Today’s victims have not yet been attended to. We kindly ask organisations, churches and individuals to extend their helping hands to this community. As an organisation we are clear that we are struggle for justice and not charity but in times of crises, when people have lost everything, we have no choice but to seek all forms of material support for people that have been left with nothing.

For more information please contact:

Nkosi Dladla 073 9760840
Mjo Gcabashe 073 3495773
Mnikelo Ndabankulu 081 3095485