Hundreds left homeless after blaze destroys their houses

Mhlaba Memela

Mhlaba Memela

More than 500 shack dwellers were left homeless after 250 shacks were gutted by fire in Cato Manor in Durban at the weekend.

The fire started at midnight on Friday after criminals allegedly set fire to a shack to flush out its inhabitants .

The fire spread to other shacks destroying them. No one was injured in the blaze.

Nkosingiphile Miya, 23, a resident, said the fire started at the home of a friend.

"I was awoken by noise and the screams of terrified people. I'm happy because I was able to grab my ID and matric certificate," he said.

"It appears the criminals knocked on his door and when they refused to open, they set their shack on fire. It is sheer luck that no one died," he said.

KwaZulu-Natal Premier S'bu Ndebele, accompanied by Social Welfare MEC, Meshack Hadebe, and eThekwini mayor Obed Mlaba visited the area to assess the damage. Ndebele said the victims would be provided with temporary shelter.

"The victims will be housed in groups in schools and churches.

"We appreciate the spirit of ubuntu on the part of families who have come forward to help."

Miriam Mthembu, 89, said, "I came here to see for myself what happened, but I'm happy no one died," said Mthembu.

Police are investigating a case of arson.