| PIETERMARITZBURG

Love dispute blamed for 66 families displaced by shack fire

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“We are suffering for arguments between people we don’t know” says victim

Photo of burnt shacks
After a shack was set alight in what residents allege was arson, 66 families were left homeless as the fire spread through Jika Joe informal settlement in Pietermaritzburg on Friday morning. Photo: Nompendulo Ngubane
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After a shack was set alight in what residents allege was arson, 66 families were left homeless as the fire spread through Jika Joe informal settlement in Pietermaritzburg on Friday morning.

According to resident Thandiwe Nene, a man suspecting his girlfriend of cheating on him set his rival’s shack alight. The fire then spread. The woman has since left the settlement after residents threatened her.

“We tried to save our shacks from burning but we could not save all of them. Everything that was inside our shacks got burnt. Our children’s clothes, food and everything was burnt,” said Nene.

“This is the second fire in this informal settlement. In December some shacks were burnt. It also involved a woman and a guy. With this accident, it’s the same. We are suffering for arguments between people we don’t know,” said Nene.

The Msunduzi municipality donated a tent, but resident Bonisile Sithole said: “That tent is alongside the road in an open space. Women cannot sleep in there. It is dangerous. We will get raped. It’s only the male residents who are sleeping in it. We are appealing for help. Our children have no clothes. If there is anyone who can assist with clothes, we will appreciate that.”

On Saturday, some residents started rebuilding.

Ward 33 Councillor Sureya Reddy (DA) said: “We are happy that no one got injured but they lost everything. We have been able to give the residents food and blankets so far.”

She said 700 residents will benefit from a community residential project being built nearby.

Msunduzi municipality spokesperson Thobeka Mafumbatha said the disaster operation manager and his team are currently busy making arrangements to assist the fire victims with blankets, mattresses and alternative accommodation.

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TOPICS:  Housing

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