Residents of the Durban slum are trying to rebuild their lives after a devastating fire

Residents of the Durban slum are trying to rebuild their lives after a devastating fire

Thandika Zondu was asleep on Sunday morning when she heard people shouting that there was a fire.

“We tried to salvage what we could, but we lost the children’s costume, and my biggest concern was my identity,” she said, standing in her hut, which was missing some of its corrugated iron sheets.

One person has been killed and thousands homeless after a fire broke out in the Kennedy Road slum settlement in Durban on Sunday.

According to eThekwini Municipality, the person who died is a 25-year-old man from the Eastern Cape. The municipality said 1,101 homes were destroyed, leaving more than 1,700 adults and about 650 children homeless.

Durban fire

The ruins of what were once homes in Kennedy Road, Durban after they were destroyed by fire on Sunday morning. (Photo: Mandla Langa)

Zondo slept in her damaged hut Sunday night and will continue to stay there to protect the goods she managed to salvage and her plot of land.

Her children, who range in age from 5, 9 and 15, are spending the school holidays in the Eastern Cape and will have to miss lessons until she has finished rebuilding the structure and has got new uniforms.

“It’s so cold; that’s no way to live. I’m just glad my kids aren’t here, otherwise I would be even more stressed,” Zondo said.

Bilal Jiwa of Gift of the Givers says they have provided some essentials for community members who are now housed at Kennedy Road Community Hall.

The Donors’ Gift Foundation provided 800 blankets and 15 mattresses to the displaced. The team also distributed diapers to the mothers in the hall. “We are in contact with eThekwini Disaster Management if further assistance is required,” said Giwa.

Community members cannot agree on how the fire started.

Maseko Mazinho said he has lost everything, but is very concerned about his identity and bank cards.

“This is a very bad situation. People are sleeping outside because they are afraid of losing their stall or losing their plot of land, because when people rebuild, they might carve out your land.”

Durban fire

The Kennedy Road slum community in Durban is in the process of rebuilding homes destroyed by a fire on Sunday morning. (Photo: Mandla Langa)

Some community members were angered by the attention the disaster brought to the slum at a time when residents needed help. “We are so hungry, yet people keep staring,” said one resident.

Read more at The Daily Maverick: Disaster response teams descend on the Kennedy Road Cottage Fire Site in Durban as thousands are left homeless

CityHope Disaster Relief Officials were on site to assess the situation. They were on Kennedy Street several times in the aftermath of the fires, said Sunil Gasa, project director for the nonprofit.

“We found that people need building materials and food. We can only help with food packaging and hygiene. We are calling on companies to help provide building materials and volunteers to come and help us distribute food.

Durban fire

People at the Kennedy Informal Settlement in Durban rebuild their homes. (Photo: Mandla Langa)

It was a shame that people had no land and were forced to live in cramped conditions, leaving them vulnerable to wildfires, said Sabu Zikod, co-founder of the Abahlali baseMjondolo shanty-dwellers movement.

Informal settlements are prone to fires in the winter, but the weekend fire is one of the largest to have occurred in the Kennedy Road Settlement, which has been around for more than 18 years.

Thousands of people are displaced by fires in informal settlements each year, and although organizations have tried to implement pilot projects such as introducing smoke alarms, these measures do not work in informal settlements due to poor infrastructure and other conditions.

a Research paper Entitled “Energy Poverty, Hut Fires, and Children’s Burns” It found: “The impact of such fires usually results in significant economic losses and reduced quality of life for the affected community, often resulting in loss of life. Fires kill thousands of people each year, with further disability or serious injury, often resulting in It often leads to unspeakable, often lifelong misery and entrenched poverty.” DM


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