Shack fires are political: Abahlali baseMjondolo mourn the death of a baby

13 November 2017 - 10:45am
News

Yesterday, at around 1:30 am a fire broke out in the Foreman Road Settlement in Clare Estate, Durban (South Africa). The fire started when a candle fell, setting the Xulu family home on fire.The familiy lost their two year old child and other members of the family are in a critical condition at King Dinizulu Hospital. The fire razed through the settlement affecting about 800 other families. 

Abahlali baseMjondolo, the shack dweller movement in South Africa, has been struggling to politicise shack fires for more than ten years; organising, mobilising and building alliances to fight against the structures that create oppressive conditions that cause shack fires.  Shack fires are a result of the unequal distribution of urban land, the failure to provide basic services like water and electricity to people and the inhumane conditions in which people are forced to live, including shack settlements that are forced to be made of salvaged and highly flammable materials, built closely together because of the shortage of available land. Without electricity, people who live in shacks are forced to use candles, paraffin lamps and stoves as alternative fuel sources. The highly flammable materials that shacks are made of and the fact that they built closely together means that shack setlements ignite like tinderboxes when a fire breaks out. When this happens there is no water to put them out. 

People living in the Foreman Road shack settlement have suffered numerous fires in the past ten years. This is the very same community where two week old baby Jaden Khoza was killed as a result of inhaling the teargas from the police during a protest in May this year. On that day the community was protesting to demand that electricity be provided in the settlement. If free and safe electricity had been provided this fire would not have happened.

According to Thapelo Mohabi, a member of Abahlali, "We are left to burn because our lives count for nothing in this society. A society that does not recognise our lives as human lives, as lives that must count the same as all other lives, is an oppressive society that must be replaced."

War on Want supports Abahlali baseMjondolo in their struggle for radical land reform, including in the cities, that puts the social value of land before its commercial value; their struggle for services and decent housing for all; and in their struggle for a society in which every human life counts as a human life.

 

 

 

Latest news

War on Want's commitment to safeguarding and code of conduct

16 February 2018 - 10:30am

The recent reports regarding the conduct of staff working for international humanitarian and development charities focussing on Oxfam, is a crucial reminder of the importance that charities should place on ensuring effective policies and practices in safeguarding, including commitments to recognise and uphold the dignity of local communities that the sector works with.

Read more

The women of Honduras speak out against electoral fraud

12 February 2018 - 12:15pm

In November, 2017, Hondurans took to the polls to elect a new president, local governors and councillors. However, far from a smooth transition into a new presidency, numerous irregularities and allegations of electoral fraud became apparent, unleashing a post-election crisis.

Read more

Join the conversation

Don’t miss Remi Kanazi (@Remroum​) live in the UK this month! With events in #Leeds, #Brighton, #Bristol and… https://t.co/Ynveh27nYX 5 hours 43 min ago
Support the #McStrike! Call on #McDonalds CEO to recognise the McStrikers’ union! #EndPrecariousContractshttps://t.co/o4sd6i3CD5 9 hours 45 min ago
Alleged electoral fraud has sparked an ongoing political crisis in #Honduras with widespread violence that's moved… https://t.co/H7FE1If9Ff 10 hours 54 min ago