Elderly resident flees after stove fire guts 80 shacks

2008-07-15 00:00

Hundreds of people were left homeless at a Durban settlement after a raging fire destroyed more than 80 shacks on Monday morning.

It is believed that a burning paraffin stove started the fire at the Kennedy Road settlement. It took firefighters almost four hours to extinguish the blaze.

The shack where the fire began belongs to an elderly woman and had quickly spread to neighbouring shacks.

Shack resident Lindela Figlan said that when the fire broke out, people grabbed their children and ran to safety.

“We just heard people screaming. Luckily everyone managed to escape and no one was injured.

“Now we have to rebuild our lives,” he said.

He said that most of the residents are being housed in a local community hall in Clare Estate. Some residents were yesterday trying to salvage some of their belongings and rebuild their homes.

“It’s really sad. These people have lost everything. They are trying to rebuild their homes but it’s very difficult at the moment,” he said.

Figlan said that they had to remove the woman from the settlement after angry residents threatened to attack her.

“We told her to go away as the people were very angry.

“They are blaming her for the fire and threatened to kill her,” Figlan said.

Abahlali baseMjondolo, a group for the shack dwellers in Durban, spokesman Sbu Zikode said the fire is a direct consequence of the decision by the eThekwini Municipality in 2001 to cease the electrification of shack settlements.

“The city is responsible for each fire, just as much as they are responsible for each eviction and each beating of refugees who have thrown themselves on the mercy of the city on the steps of its hall of power,” he said

He said that the municipality creates disaster by refusing to invest in shack settlements and then misuses those disasters to legitimise their agenda to eradicate shacks.

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