Transit camp for fire victims burns down in Durban

60 families left homeless after a fire in Foreman informal settlement on Sunday

By Tsoanelo Sefoloko

10 October 2023

Bonisiwe Zondi and her neighbours prepare something to eat after their homes burnt down on Sunday. Photos: Tsoanelo Sefoloko

More than 60 shacks were destroyed in a fire on Sunday in a transit camp in Foreman Road, near Sherwood, Durban. About 170 people are now sleeping in tents donated by the Red Cross.

The cause of the fire is still unknown.

Community leader Vuyani Miya said he was woken by people screaming.

He said the transit camp was established after another fire in the Foreman informal settlement in 2008. Ever since, they have been waiting for formal dwellings.

Many people lost IDs and birth certificates in the latest fire and they wish Home Affairs would come to help them replace the documents.

Bonisiwe Zondi said she had sent her daughter to her father, because she was afraid that if she left the site, her stand would be taken by someone else. She was also waiting for building materials, which they had been told would be delivered by the national Human Settlements department.

Ward 25 Councillor Themba Mkhize (ANC) confirmed this.

Mqapheli Bonono, deputy president of shack dweller movement Abahlali baseMjondolo, said he used to live in Foreman. He said people were fed up with waiting and they had rebuilt or added to their original transit shelters.

Spokesperson for eThekwini municipality Gugu Sisilana said the disaster management team would verify and profile the fire victims.

Sisilana said a lack of bulk service capacity in the City and further occupations in the settlement made it difficult to plan for a long term or permanent solution for the families. Interventions would depend on funding, she said.

Sisilana said there were 595 informal settlements with 316,000 households in eThekwini. The municipality had delivered 200,000 RDP houses since 1994, but the informal settlement housing backlog would take 90 years to clear at the current rate. The City’s plan was therefore to optimise the provision of services to upgrade informal settlements.

Nontobeko Ndlovu and her grandmother inside the Red Cross tent.