Category Archives: Nosipho Luthuli

Daily News: Abahlali blames city for shack fire

by Nosipho Luthuli

Shack dwellers’ movement, Abahlali baseMjondolo, has blamed the eThekwini Municipality for the 176 homes that burnt down at the Kennedy Road informal settlement on Tuesday.

The movement’s chairman, Sbu Zikode, said: “If the people had electricity and water like they were promised years ago, None of this would have happened – it would all have been be avoided.” He said it was fortunate that no one had been hurt this time around.

By 3pm on Wednesday, the 300 people affected by the blaze had started rebuilding their shacks with the R1.76 million worth of material provided by the KwaZulu-Natal department of human settlements and public works.

The department also distributed blankets and food parcels to the families. Zikode said: “How long will people live on hand-outs?”

On Wednesday, the department’s MEC, Ravigasen Pillay, mayor James Nxumalo, DA caucus leader, Tex Collins, chairman of the housing portfolio committee, Nigel Gumede, head of housing in the municipality, Cogi Pather, and area councillor, Bhekisani Ngcobo, visited the settlement to assess the extent of the damage and meet with the affected families.

Pillay said: “The plan to put the people in RDP houses will start soon. Of 3 800 houses that must be built, the substantial housing plan can only yield 1 000 houses in Kennedy. The other 2 800 will be built in other areas, meaning that some people will have to relocate.”

Ngcobo said he was relieved that the MEC had visited the area and assisted with parcels and blankets because when “something like this happens”, the people looked to him for help. “I’m aware of the plan but I’m not sure when it will be implemented or how much has been located to it,” he said.

Note: The plan to build houses at Kennedy Road, and for those that cannot be accommodated at Kennedy Road, to be accommodated at Cornubia, was developed by AbM in negotiations with City officials some years ago after years of mass struggle against a plan to ‘eradicate’ the settlement entirely and forcibly removal the residents to human dumping ground of Parkgate.