Fire victims left destitute

2017-03-09 06:01
Firefighters extinguish the flames in a house that caught fire in the uMbhayi informalsettlements. Photo: suppliedPhoto: supplied

Firefighters extinguish the flames in a house that caught fire in the uMbhayi informalsettlements. Photo: suppliedPhoto: supplied

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A FAMILY in the uMbhayi informal settlements has been left destitute after a fire ravaged their home on February 24.

The cause of the fire has not yet been established, however, it is suspected that the owner of the house left a paraffin stove unattended and it exploded, causing the fire.

The flames of the fire gutted the house and destroyed crucial documents such as IDs, school exercise books and certificates. Fortunately no one was injured.

Community leader Maxwell Ndunge said: “We suspect that the owner of the house forgot to switch off the stove and it caught fire.

“It is high time that the municipality considers supplying electricity to the uMbhayi area to avoid illegal connections. The dwellers resort to stealing electricity to make their lives much better.”

Chairperson of the BSU Youth Organisation Muzammil Razak said: “These [shack dwellers] are overdue with their houses because they were promised by officials that in February this year, they would get proper houses. In the meantime, we intend to start outreach programmes to educate the residents about safety.”

Ward councillor Dolly Munien said: “The fire victim came to my office and I gave him a letter for proof of residence. His ID book was destroyed by the fire. The disaster management team gave him a food hamper.”

Following the fire, some of the residents accused officials of making empty promises.

A resident who wished to remain anonymous said: “Officials came to the uMbhayi area last year and promised us that by February this year, the housing project would resume.”

When the Weekly asked Munien about the cause of the delay in the project, she said: “The project was supposed to start last month [February], but due to a political feud that erupted in the area recently, we were unable to deliver the services to the community. However, I can assure the residents that the project will commence next month.”

Attempts to get a comment from the owner of the house were unsuccessful.

The police spokesperson in Tongaat, Warrant Officer Manisha Maharaj-Marie, confirmed that a report about a house on fire was received.

“We received a report and there was no case opened. The number of burnt informal dwellings we have had in the past couple of months is alarming. The basic checks before locking up your premises should be practiced daily —switching off stoves, unplugging all electrical appliances, no loose electricity wires in and around the premises. So parents, please take note and just take two minutes before you leave the house to be certain that the necessary precautions are in place.”

The Department of Trade and Industry warned the suppliers of non-compliant paraffin stoves and heaters that they will be prosecuted.

Minister Rob Davis said in a statement: “We are tired of just confiscating and destroying sub-standard goods from unscrupulous suppliers of these appliances. We want them to be prosecuted.

“Communities should report these illegal suppliers and work together with government so that the law can take its course.”


Image 1: Fire fighters extinguish the flames from a house that caught fire in Umbhayi Informal settlements.

Image 2: Fire fighter douses the flames of fire.

Image 3: In the centre of the burnt shack is a paraffin stove that is suspected to have caused fire.








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