Cops burnt down our homes - residents

2014-02-25 18:15

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Johannesburg - Johannesburg metro police were responsible for a fire which destroyed their belongings, residents of a Midrand informal settlement said on Tuesday.

"Our children do not have clothes as well as school uniforms because they were gutted in the fire," 37-year-old resident Monica Mthembu said.

"Some of us depend on piece jobs to make ends meet and most of our children go to school in the area."

Wiseman Ndlovu, 38, said he was left destitute because he had nowhere else to go.

"The metro [police] burned our shacks down. They should give us a place to stay," he said.

About 100 people were seated under trees, some women breast-feeding their babies.

"We have nowhere else to go. We will camp here for the rest of the night," said Millicent Chabalala, 45.

About 200 shacks were destroyed in a fire.

Emergency services spokesperson Robert Mulaudzi said residents accused Johannesburg metro police of setting the shacks on fire.

He said firemen quickly brought the blaze under control as they feared it would spread to other areas.

The informal settlement is located between the McDonald's restaurant and a block of flats on Grand Central Boulevard.

Johannesburg metro police spokesman Wayne Minnaar denied that officers started the fire. He said the JMPD went to break down illegal shacks because the land was occupied illegally.

"The residents started the fire and not the JMPD," he said.

Mthembu said her family of seven had been living in a shack without water or electricity. Over 500 people were left destitute after their shacks were destroyed in the settlement, situated between Pretoria and Johannesburg.

Around 17:00 on Tuesday, most of the residents were rebuilding their dwellings.

- SAPA
Read more on:    johannesburg  |  fire
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