500 homes gutted

Mhlaba Memela

Mhlaba Memela

More than 1000 families at Springfield Park in Durban were left out in the cold after over 500 shacks were destroyed by fire fanned by raging winds on Sunday.

The homeless were squashed into two tents while eThekwini Municipality, the provincial housing and social development departments assess the situation. At Dannhauser in northern KwaZulu-Natal more than 300 homes were destroyed by heavy storms.

MEC for local government, housing and traditional affairs Mike Mabuyakhulu and mayor Obed Mlaba visited the area during a heavy downpour yesterday morning. The province has been lashed by heavy rains and winds and a cold front.

The two leaders promised the community temporary houses, while the municipality would look into how to build safer houses.

Local councillor Yacob Baig said: "We suspect the fire was caused by a candle. We were very lucky that there were no injuries in that disaster. People lost everything, including their identity documents and food. They were left with nothing." He said they had supplied tents for the people while their homes were being rebuilt. "We have arranged food and blankets for them too."

A grade 6 pupil, S'fiso Khumalo, 11, said: "My uniform was burnt, but my mother saved my exercise books. If I get money to buy new uniform, I will be back at school in no time. I don't even know where to sleep as it is raining and very cold."

Meanwhile, five people died on roads as heavy rains lashed the region overnight and yesterday.

Two people died on the N2 northbound freeway in KwaMbonambi yesterday. On Sunday night three people died on the N2 northbound freeway at Balgowan, outside Howick. Yesterday, 18 people were injured in a pile up involving eight cars and three taxis at KwaMashu.