Durban – The KwaZulu-Natal Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) has said one person died and over 300 people were left homeless when a fire ripped through the Masinenge informal settlement in Port Shepstone at the weekend.
The department said the MEC Bongiwe Sithole-Moloi visited the area on Sunday to hand over disaster relief aid and brief the victims on the government's response to assist them in rebuilding their homes, starting from Monday.
The department said the fire destroyed 111 households, leaving over 300 people homeless in the settlement. One person died in the fire. Another suffered minor to moderate injuries on the face and was treated at the scene.
“A provincial disaster team comprising various government departments, local and district municipalities, public agencies, non-governmental organisations, and private businesses has been on the ground providing relief.
“So far, the disaster response team has provided over 400 blankets, 166 plastic sheeting, and 200 mattresses to the victims.”
Cogta said most victims had sought temporary shelter with relatives, including the Mandisi family, whose 31-year-old son died in the fire.
Sithole-Moloi said that the victims would start receiving materials to rebuild their structures from tomorrow. The disaster response team will also aid in the removal of debris to clear the sites.
"While the government's long-term goal is to provide decent houses, the immediate focus is on assisting the victims in returning to a sense of normalcy by rebuilding their homes. Some residents have already started rebuilding, and the government will provide support wherever possible.
“The Home Affairs Department will be present on Monday to assist with issuing identity documents," MEC Sithole-Moloi said.
The MEC expressed gratitude for the support of social partners and private businesses in helping those who lost everything in the fire. The investigation into the cause of the fire is ongoing, and the MEC cautioned people to remain vigilant during the winter season.
She emphasised the importance of not leaving fire, gas stoves, or candles unattended. Illegal connections were also identified as a challenge, and the communities were urged to exercise caution to prevent similar incidents.