It has now been a month since the fire at the Usindiso Shelter building in Marshalltown, Johannesburg, claimed the lives of 77 people who lived in the building.
On August 31, IOL reported that 77 people died and about 50 others were injured when the fire engulfed the building in the early hours. It is now known that the building was one of the hijacked buildings in the city.
A start-up political party, Rise Mzansi, has called on the City of Johannesburg and the relevant provincial and national departments to speed up the process of issuing the Marshalltown fire victims with interim documentation.
Almost all of the victims lost their relevant documents, which includes IDs, passports, and birth certificates for minors. Both South African citizens and African migrants are victims of the deadly fire.
"Both the SA Government and the respective embassies and consulates should support the urgent issuing of temporary documentation to enable those affected to continue rebuilding their lives without fear of further victimisation," it said.
In a statement, Rise Mzansi Civic Alliances Coordinator, Irfaan Mangera expressed concerns about the efficacy of the government's response — at all levels — to the avoidable tragedy.
Despite the move by the provincial government to establish a commission of inquiry into the cause of the fire, Mangera believed that more information and transparency was needed regarding the relief response by the City of Johannesburg, Social Development, Human Settlements, International Relations and Cooperation, and Home Affairs departments.
"We note that no substantive updates have been provided in over two weeks by the authorities related to the relief efforts, injuries, deaths, or support for the retrieval of belongings like identity documents destroyed in the fire," he said.
Mangera further called on the government to update the public on the following issues:
1. The number of fire-related hospitalisations and deaths and the exact number of people displaced by the fire.
2. What support government has provided in the form of food, shelter, medical support, and trauma counselling in the weeks since the fire.
3. A status update on the processes of identification of deceased persons by their families, DNA services for the 62 persons who were not recognisable, and burial support provided.
4. To provide a short to medium-term disaster management and human settlement plan for victims of the fire beyond the temporary shelters set up for the first 72 hours after the fire.
5. To provide a plan for the care of any children orphaned or who have suffered disruptions to schooling due to the fire.
Furthermore, he noted the arrests of victims of the fire by the South African Police Service, which further showcased the failure of the system to support those who had their legal documents burned to ashes.
He also called on the authorities to engage on how they can collectively deal with the crisis.