8 KZN familes share one-room shack after losing homes in fire

Since a fire destroyed their homes three weeks ago, eight KwaZulu-Natal families have been living in a single dilapidated shack which usually serves as a church.

The fire, which broke out in the Canelands informal settlement in Verulam, eThekwini, on Sunday July 8, is believed to have been caused by illegal connections, GroundUp reports.

Jabulani Mtolo said the past weeks have been hell for the families. They have no privacy; they sleep on a cold floor with their children, aged from two to 15.

Eight Durban families have been living in this dilapidated shack, which usually serves as a church, after a fire destroyed their homes three weeks ago. (Nokulunga Majola, GroundUp)

"The fire left us with nothing, I had to go to loan sharks to borrow money to buy school uniforms for the kids because everything we had was destroyed," said Mtolo.

"We have been waiting for almost three weeks now to get building materials so we can start rebuilding our homes, but the wait seems to be longer than we anticipated," he said.

The fire debris has also not been cleared by the local authorities.

"We are cleaning the place ourselves," said Sindiswa Mokoena. "Children are hungry because we haven't been fed since Thursday. They [the City] used to bring bread and soup, and they haven’t brought anything for us to eat since then."

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Senzeleni Shange, owner of the church, said: "We thought it was going to be temporary, but it's been almost three weeks… Having them at the church is an inconvenience for us… I feel sorry for them in this cold weather with the children."

Mtolo said: "I just hope to get building material soon, because we can't stay in the church for long… How long are we going to live like this?"

After the fire, ward 58 councillor Geoff Pullan and the City's disaster management brought food and blankets. Pullan said he has not heard anything from the City about building material.

At the time of publication, the eThekwini Metropolitan Municipality had not yet responded to GroundUp's inquiry made last week Thursday.