Category Archives: Abahlali baseRidge View

Fifty People Left Homeless after a Fire in the Ridge View Transit Camp

Abahlali baseMjondolo Press Statement
Monday, 27 September 2010

Governmentally Approved Shacks (Tin Houses) Burn Down in the Ridge View Transit Camp

A fire swept through the Ridge View Transit Camp on Sunday, 26 September 2010. It began at the hour of 23:00pm and eighteen (18) amatins (government shacks) were turned to ashes and +-50) people left homeless. It is assumed that the fire was started by the candle in one of the tin house.

The community that is being forced to live in the Ridge View transit camp was placed there five years ago with limited water standpipes, electricity, refuse collection and 6 toilets. One toilet is in good condition but the others are no condition to be used by humans. The residents of Ridge View have begged the Councillor of Ward 29 Lindiwe Ntaki several times for development but she has denied the residents wishes to be removed from the transit camps and be placed on proper houses. There are 852 government shacks (amatins) in this transit camps with +-5000 people being forced to live like animals in this filthy community. If this is ‘housing delivery’ we don’t want it. It is an insult to our human dignity and a disgrace to the city and to the country.

Councillor Lindiwe Ntaki came at 11:45am today to the shack fire victims and promised to give them food parcels and blankets. But the only thing is that she claim a food parcels for one family is 2 tins of baked beans and 1 blanket per family. The questions that are raised by the community is how are they going to eat the baked beans alone and where are they going to sleep with one blanket as most of them are large families. They have no shelter to sleep on this cold night with their children and have absolutely nothing to eat other than the two tins of baked beans. They don’t even have tin openers.

For a long time we always voted for a better life with a hope that the leaders that we vote for will always work for the people. But we have found that the leaders that came to power through our votes have no interest in the lives of the people. We are just ladders for them. The only interest they have is for the people to vote and put them on the top positions. Once they are there they forget that they are where they are because of people. We’ve always said that the interest of the poor is not respected and considered but the shack fires that are happening with no help from the government prove that we are not respected as South African citizens.

Our biggest concern is that these same politicians are going to campaign for the people’s votes in the next election while they have failed to even provide us with those basic services that we have been promised by those who were in power due to their hunger for our votes. We demand that an urgent action should be taken by Cllr James Nxumalo to all the councillors that don’t do their work. We also demand that Mr Nigel Gumede get rid of all the transit camps and give people proper houses. We advise all communities to organise and mobilise themselves outside of the control of the councillors, the ward committees and the BECs.

We have always said that these transit camps must not be built for the people and that the people must rather be given proper housing because we’ve seen that these government shacks are no improvement from the shacks that we’ve built by ourselves.

As a movement we would like to stress out this fire was not caused by an illegal electricity connection (a people’s electricity connection). The government must stop lying and blaming all shack fires on illegal electricity connections. We do not want to see the government diverting the focus from their failure to provide us with land and housing, and to electrify our shacks while we wait, by putting this false stress on illegal connection as they always do. People don’t need to be work-shopped about fire safety. These workshops are an insult. Our problem is not that we are stupid. Our problem is that we don’t have electricity and proper houses. People need to get electricity immediately and then to be housed in safe houses.

We urge all those who wish to help by donating what they can to call the office of the Abahlali baseMjondolo Movement S.A.

For more information please contact the following comrades:

Ms Bandile Mdlalose
Abahlali baseMjondolo Secretary General
031 304 6420
074 730 8120

Mr Mnikelo Ndabankulu
Abahlali baseMjondolo Spokesperson
079 745 0653

Mr Bongi Tibe
Ridge View Resident
083 420 6124

Click here to see some photographs of the Ridge View transit camp by Kalinca Copello.

Click here to read an academic study on the River Side transit camp by Lenny Cohen.