Cato Crest shacks razed, residents left homeless
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Durban - More than 20 people were left homeless after their shacks were destroyed in a fire at the Cato Crest informal settlement yesterday.
Msawakhe Mayisela, eThekwini Municipality spokesperson, said 17 structures were destroyed.
“No injuries or fatalities have been reported. However, we can state that 20 people were affected. Our investigation revealed that the fire was due to an electrical fault,” Mayisela said.
Mayisela said the city would supply the affected parties with building materials in due course.
Khethi Chiya, a resident at the Stock 8 area of the informal settlement, whose tuckshop was razed, was rebuilding his home when The Mercury spoke to him.
“My tuckshop burnt down. All my equipment and stock are gone, and my fridges are completely burnt. I’m busy trying to build a place for my family to sleep,” he said.
Chiya said he had spent many years building his business.
“We are not sure what happened. There was no electricity when we woke up. Around nine o’ clock we heard something explode a few rooms away from my tuckshop,” he said.
Gertrude Mhlongo, a senior citizen who lives alone, said the fire had wrecked her home and belongings.
“I am not working and my home is gone. I was here when it happened. I am going to have to sleep outside. I have nothing left,” she said tearfully.
The Stock 8 area is 500m away from the Marikana section which was burnt in December, leaving 70 families homeless.
Mqapheli Bonono, deputy president of Abahlali baseMjondolo, the shack dwellers’ movement, said although the fire occurred in an area which did not have its members, it was still a major concern especially with “winter coming”.
“It’s one fire too many and we are all human beings, and these incidents are touching on our lives. We feel shack dwellers are neglected by the government.
“We are pleading with the municipality to work closely with progressive organisations in the informal settlements. We want officials to put measures in place to avoid such incidents,” Bonono said.
Cato Crest ward councillor, Muzumuni Ngiba, who went to the scene when he heard about the fire, said he was awaiting for disaster management to finalise the numbers of affected people to provide them with materials and blankets.
“It was a small portion of the informal settlement that was gutted. Businesses in the area have volunteered to assist the families with food,” he said.