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Uitenhage Fire Survivors Demand Their Rights To Housing

A 65-year-old Uitenhage pensioner, Mbulelo Maki is the second person who is left stranded after a fire swept through his Kariega based bangalow on Thursday morning.

In an exclusive interview with JHR, KwaNobuhle township police confirmed that an inquest has been open regarding the incident.

According to KwaNobuhle Police spokesperson Captain Andre Beegte Maki had no choice but to use a window to escape as the fire erupted after a candle fell over inside Maki’s two-room bungalow and destroyed all of his belongings.

“It was about 2:20 am. The man indicated to us that by accident. A candle fell over in his bungalow, destroying it. He then escaped and injured his head in the process. We arranged that he go for medical attention in the hospital. There is no foul play suspected,” said Beegte

On Friday morning, Maki’s relative, Nomfusi Mpinga told JHR that the fire victims recovering well in a nearby hospital.

“He (Maki) is in a stable condition in hospital. The wounds he sustaned aren’t life threatning. So we are hopefully that he will soon be discharged. 

As you would know, naturaily, it is very easy for the family to be extremely concerned when such a bad thing has happened to one of your relatives but a family we are also very encougared by his positivity.  

As it is expected, the Dubai community of over 100 elders and people who live with disabilities opened up about their fears of another fire outburst.

The Dubai newcomer residents who come from wards 42, 43, 44, 45, 46, 47 and 50 told JHR that their fire susceptible bungalows continue to give them nightmares.

Stuck in no electrified and working sewage system, the Dubai residents strongly believe that their rights to housing, dignity and health are severely infringed upon. They say Covid 19 state limited resources challenge has recently been used as an excuse for their dehumanized treatment.

Bukelwa Dloto is one of many displeased Dubai residents.  The 62 year old moved to the area early last year with the hope that life would be fairly easier financially, as she will not be paying rent anymore.

Dloto opened up about her daily struggles in Dubai. She also revealed her involvement in trying to rescue Maki on Thursday morning.

“These bungalows are susceptible to fire. I used all the water I had stored for myself and my children to put out the blazes. My own bungalow was wet because I live next to Maki’s bungalow. So the buckets of water that were thrown by neighbours also splashed my bungalow.”

While explaining the logic behind temporarily placing senior citizens and people who are living with disabilities in Dubai, Ward 45, the ANC councillor Siphiwo Plaatjies said:

“This was not to put old people and others in a trap. The aim of putting the elderly and people with disabilities was for them to get comfortability this area offers.

Service delivery was our top priority, therefore, the reason elders and disable community members are strategically accommodated here is because we wanted togive them some sort of decent temporal housing.

We thought by now all essential services like running water and electricity would have been sorted. Regrettably that is not the case. We hope these processes will be fasttracked after the upcoming municipal and provincial elections.

Persons with Disabilities Forum in Nelson Mandela Bay spokesperson, Temba Mzants refuted councillor Plaatjies claims that the affected Dubai residents were consulted before they were moved from their ‘orignal’ homes.

“We were never informed of this project of bungalows. Many of our members who are housed in these bungalows are complaining. Other persons with disabilities don’t even want to be housed in Dubai because they say the area is not suitable for them.”

By Thamsanqa Mbovane

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