Another informal inferno in Tongaat

Shack dwellers in Rajkumar with councillor Dolly Munien. Photo: andile sithole
Shack dwellers in Rajkumar with councillor Dolly Munien. Photo: andile sithole

SEVEN families in Rajkumar, Tongaat lost their homes and their belongings after a fire at the informal settlement destroyed more than 10 shacks on Monday, 29 August.

Residents said that the fire started in one shack and quickly spread to the others.

School books, identity documents and other crucial documents were destroyed.

Young children aged between five and 10 , who attend a local primary school in Tongaat lost their textbooks and school uniforms.

When the Weekly visited the area on Monday, residents gathered under the trees while others were searching for their belongings in the remains.

Thembinkosi Ntuli (31) said the fire started at his shack.

“We had domestic problems with my girlfriend. She locked the door and set our shack on fire before she fled. I lost a fridge, TV, furniture, food and other items in the house,” he said.

Another resident Nosiphiwe Mfingwane (25) said she was asleep when the fire broke out and gutted the shacks.

“I was asleep in my house when the fire started. I heard a loud bang on the door and neighbours and children crying. When I went out to investigate I saw that shacks were on fire. I thought I was going to die.

“The flames of fire were strong. I dragged my children out of the house and we fled. I watched while the fire was destroying my clothes and other crucial documents that were in the house. My children’s textbooks and school uniforms were destroyed as well,” she said.

Mfingwana arrived in Durban from the Eastern Cape in 2011 for job opportunities.

“We used buckets of water to douse the flames, but the fire was too strong. In less than five minutes, six shacks were gutted. The fire department arrived after an hour and by then more than 10 shacks were burnt down,” she said.

A Grade 12 pupil Simphiwe Ndlovu (18) appealed to the business owners and community members to assist him in buying new books.

“My life is not going to be the same again. I have already missed my classes for the whole week,” he said.

Ward councillor Dolly Munien told the Weekly that all the affected residents will be housed at a community hall in Rajkumar.

“We are in a process of getting them blankets and food. I have contacted the disaster management team to intervene.

“It is high time the municipality electrifies the informal settlements and provides them with houses. Such incidents could have been avoided if these people were given proper houses,” she said.

Police spokeswoman in Tongaat Warrant Officer Manisha Maharaj-Marie confirmed the incident. “A case of arson was opened at the police station for further investigation.”

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