eThekwini explains delayed response to Kennedy Road fire victims
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DURBAN - The eThekwini Municipality said they could not react or assist those affected by a fire at the Kennedy Road informal settlement because staff had come under attack from some residents.
A portion of the informal settlement in Clare Estate caught alight at the weekend. Three weeks ago, a fire destroyed about 100 shacks. Aid efforts were delayed.
According to the city, a task team of emergency responders, including firefighters, were attacked by the community and that created a challenge for follow-up services.
Msawakhe Mayisela, eThekwini Municipality spokesperson, said staff went back with an intention of offering assistance.
This follows condemnation by the DA, which alleged that both the City and the Human Settlements Department response was slow.
Martin Meyer, MPL, the DA’s provincial Human Settlements spokesperson, said no building material had been provided by the City’s Disaster Management Unit for families who lost some of their possessions.
“The situation has now been made far worse with another fire at the weekend which destroyed a further 483 informal homes, leaving hundreds of families homeless and in dire need of assistance,” he said.
Meyer said they were informed that the City only offered enough building material to rebuild 10 houses.
He said that as a result, the desperate community members had intended to invade 45 incomplete houses at the Dodoma Housing Project next to the informal settlement.
“It is very incorrect to say that the City responded by providing affected residents with inadequate building material,” said Mayisela.
“It has never done that during the many disasters it has attended to. Kennedy Road is no exception. We conduct assessments to ascertain who is in need and then tailor our relief efforts accordingly.”
He said they were not aware of attempts of illegal invasion by residents, and such statements stood to encourage members of the community to invade unfinished housing development projects in the area, which would cause an unnecessary crisis.
The Department of Human Settlements said that they were waiting for a report.