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Shack Fire in the Kennedy Road Settlement

Sunday 23rd December 2013
Abahlali baseMjondolo Press Statement

Shack Fire in the Kennedy Road Settlement

At around 4am a fire hit the eShishunqa section of the Kennedy Road settlement in Clare Estate in Durban. Around twenty shacks were gutted. There have not been any reports of injury or death.

One of the people whose home was destroyed was planning to return to her rural home tomorow and lost all the food and money for stokvel.

Shack fires are not just accidents or natural disasters. They are a result of the way in which we are forced to live. Our movement has been struggling since 2005 for shack fires to be recognised as a political crisis resulting from the contempt with which poor people are treated in this society. This struggle continues. Everytime there is a fire the police and munucipality issue statements blaming the fire on alcohol or what they call "illegal electricity connections". They say these things without making any attempt to find out the real cause of fires. The most common cause of fires is in fact candles. For this reason our struggle against the fires has always included a struggle for the immediate electrification of all shack settlements. When we started our struggle the eThekwini Municipality refused to electrify shacksettlemnts and sent out armed men to disconnect people who connected themselves. As a result of our struggle this inhumane policy has being overturned and a started has been made with electrifying shack settlements in Durban. However the process is too slow and like everything else in this municipality it is being channeled through the local structures of the ruling party rather than being developed as a universal right for all residents.

The affected residents have not yet had any contact from the Muncipality's Disaster Mangement Services. We are calling for speedy, effective and non- partisan support for all affected residents.

Any solidarity with the families that have lost their homes and all their possessions will be warmly welcomed.


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