9 August 2018

South Africa: Fire Leaves Scores Homeless in East London

Fire destroyed over 20 shacks in Duncan Village, East London, on Wednesday afternoon, leaving scores of people homeless in Site C. Residents tried to combat the fire using water buckets, but the flames were too high.

The cause of the fire is still unknown. However, residents say they know in which shack it started. The owner was at work. By the time firefighters arrived the damage had been done.

"I lost everything in this fire - my ID, clothing and all the food I had bought for his month ... I don't even know where I will sleep," said Thobeka Mafanya.

"This fire happened as we are waiting for housing to be provided for us. We already have site numbers in Chicken Farm, and a promise to move us has been made several times by the City," said one of the fire victims.

"We do not want any bungalows or temporary structures. We want to be moved straight into our houses. Almost all of us here have site numbers. A solution must be made this week," said a resident.

Ward 7 councillor Clara Morollong-Yekiso said the Buffalo City Metropolitan Municipality would provide disaster relief. "We are compiling a list of all the fire victims, the number of family members from each shack, and the damage caused," said Morollong-Yekiso. She said help should be provided from Thursday.

A hall next to her office would be made available for the fire victims in the meantime.

Morollong-Yekiso said the move to formal housing was being handled by the municipality. She said people should attend the community meetings to understand how far that process had gone.

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