By Hajira Khota
More than 100 informal settlement residents were left destitute after their homes were engulfed by fire, leaving them homeless. In Clairwood, about 80 shacks were demolished near the Inkosi Luthuli Highway (M4).
The fire, which began at 7.30 p.m. on Sunday, followed another in the neighbourhood. Broken bottles, rough stone, burnt wooden poles, bed springs, torn metal sheets, and burnt paraffin burners littered the ground as residents waited in line to sign their names on a list.
Residents said that they were distraught and had no idea what to do next.
Sinalo Nodada, 26, who came to Durban three years ago for job opportunities, said she was ashamed to go home to the Eastern Cape empty handed.
“I have lost everything. My children’s Christmas clothes are gone just like that. I am unemployed but I sacrificed buying food so I would be able to at least buy them one new clothing item to wear like other children”.
Ward 32 councillor Prottas Mngonyama claimed the neighbourhood has a criminal element.
“Unfortunately, there are a lot of problems with the owners concerning these shacks.” The individuals that rent these shacks to the public are an issue. Residents are caught in the crossfire when they fight.
Mhlaba Memela, a spokesperson for the Agency of Social Development, said the department and the council were working together to help the bereaved families.
“We’re working with social workers to compile all of the information on the residents who have been affected.
Memela says that they want to ensure that residents are able to get back their important documents so that those who receive grants and pensions can continue to do so.