Thousands left homeless by devastating Kennedy Road shack fire

One man died in the blaze early on Sunday morning

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Thousands of people were left homeless when their shacks were destroyed by a fire in the early hours of Sunday morning at Kennedy Road informal settlement in Durban. Photo: Tsoanelo Sefoloko

A 25-year-old man has died, and four others suffered injuries after a fire ripped through Kennedy Road informal settlement in Durban on Sunday morning. According to residents, over 1,000 shacks were gutted, leaving about 2,300 people homeless.

The community is not sure about the whereabouts of three people and a child, but they may have just been away from home.

Disaster management teams, as well as Gift of the Givers, Meals on Wheels and the Red Cross Society, have been on the ground to help the affected families. The organisations and the eThekwini Municipality are supplying hot meals, mattresses, blankets, baby hampers and mobile toilets.

On Monday, we spoke to 69-year-old Busisiwe Dlamini. Her hands were covered in ash as she sorted through the debris to see if any of her belongings could be salvaged.

“I was sleeping when I heard people screaming, ‘Umlilo!’ [fire] … My 10-year-old grandchild Samke was crying because she didn’t know what was happening,” said Dlamini.

Lungile Shandu said she fled her home with her two children, aged nine and 14. They lost all of their belongings in the fire. “It was like a nightmare … watching my shack burn. I could not believe it but there was nothing I could do,” she said.

Community leader Sifiso Mkhize said the fire victims were desperate to rebuild their homes but they needed help with building materials and food.

We really don’t have anything to eat … If we had more taps, we would have doused that fire. The problem is the fire started at night while many people were sleeping,” said Mkhize.

Head of communication at eThekwini Municipality Lindiwe Khuzwayo said thousands of residents had lost their homes, belongings and legal documents.

She said water tankers have been sent to the area.

“Our human settlements department is currently capturing the beneficiary list for the provision of building materials. The affected residents have been housed in the local community hall, though many have opted to stay near their sites due to fear of losing them,” said Khuzwayo. She did not say when the material would be delivered.

TOPICS:  Disaster Housing

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