People survey the burnt remains of their homes after a fire razed several shacks at the Cato Crest informal settlement on Sunday. Picture: Supplied.
People survey the burnt remains of their homes after a fire razed several shacks at the Cato Crest informal settlement on Sunday. Picture: Supplied.

Shack fire kills 1 leaves 45 families homeless

By Sakhiseni Nxumalo Time of article published Apr 20, 2021

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DURBAN - A 34-YEAR-OLD woman burned to death after a fire broke out in the Marikana informal settlement in Cato Crest on Sunday, leaving 45 families homeless.

Sixteen-year-old Cebo Mpiliso sustained serious burns.

Abahlali baseMjondolo (AbM), the shack dwellers’ movement, said Mpiliso was in critical condition in hospital. They said the dead woman, Nomasamson Dlamini, was from Lesotho and had moved to Durban for employment.

Deputy president of AbM, Mqapheli Bonono, said Dlamini had two children who were living in Lesotho.

KwaZulu-Natal police spokesperson Captain Nqobile Gwala confirmed the incident and said an inquest docket was being investigated by Cato Manor police.

Gwala said the cause of the fire was unknown and the matter was still under investigation.

Bonono said the afflicted community at Cato Crest had lost all their belongings, including groceries.

According to Bonono, the community believed the incident was caused by an illegal electricity connection.

Yesterday, some of the community members had already started rebuilding their shacks.

However, many have taken refuge at the community hall.

Bonono said the matter was reported to eThekwini Disaster Management.

“We are yet to receive assistance or feedback.The sad part is that people lost their vital belongings such as identity documents, medications, grant cards and clinic cards.

“We have approached various stakeholders to try to get some assistance for the affected families. Fortunately, people in the hall have been assisted with food and blankets for now,” said Bonono.

Municipal spokesperson Msawakhe Mayisela said the city was aware of the fire.

He said the disaster management team responded to the incident and an assessment was conducted to establish the exact number of structures and displaced people.

“Ongoing assistance is given once an incident report is compiled.

Assistance in such circumstances is usually given in the form of food, blankets and, if needed, tents,” he said.

He said that fires in informal settlements were commonly caused by open flame sources used for cooking, heating, and lighting that were poorly maintained.

“We plead with residents to be very careful when making use of open flames. These must be extinguished properly when they are not being used.

“We also ask that residents contact emergency services as soon as they see a fire,” warned Mayisela.

He added that illegal connections had also been known to cause fires.

“We ask that residents report illegal connections and that those taking part in this criminal activity stop, as it endangers the lives of others.”


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