WATCH | Second Creek residents clam councillor inaction after devastating fire

A group of Buffalo City Metro residents from ward 14 who lost their identity documents, along with other belongings, in a raging fire that gutted 12 shacks last Friday at the AW Barnes squatter camp in Second Creek, Parkside, blamed their ward councillor for failing to help them get temporary IDs to allow them to vote.

Three residents said they had lost everything in the fire and had been sleeping in nearby bushes.

They said they had asked their ward councillor, the DA’s Derek Green, for help but he had ignored them.

Nomhle Mdze, 32, said she had lived in the Second Creek dump for years and had been on the RDP house list, but had never received a house.

“We’ve lived in a pigsty for years and were always promised houses, but now the shacks have burnt down, and we have nothing.

“We could not even vote because our IDs, beds, clothes were all destroyed by the fire.

“When we call Derek Green he just ignores us while our children sleep outside.”

Zanele Mosia, 32, said: “We are just treated like animals.

“We live in the dumpsite and when we need to get help to vote no-one helps us.

“We have been sleeping under trees for three days now and we still cannot vote.”

Ncebakazi Stemele, 30, said she and her two-year-old had no place to sleep,  but not being able to vote hurt her the most.

“We lose our shacks and IDs and the councillor ignores us,” Stemele said.

Phone calls were made to Green, but his cellphone was off and the Dispatch could not get a comment from him.

Chantal King, the DA leader in BCM, denied that Green had neglected the residents whose shacks had burnt down.

“I know he was there and spoke to disaster management,” she said.

“He confirmed to me on Monday morning that he had again gone to disaster management to ask for assistance, because the people have not had a place to stay for several nights.

“He was told that the department was not working because it’s a public holiday, and they could only intervene on Tuesday.”

BCM spokesperson Samkelo Ngwenya said that at about 12am on Monday the same issue was raised in a JOC meeting. “Disaster Management and SAPS visited the area and were received by a group of angry community members who said their councillor did not respond to their call.

“We then went to the area which burnt and saw seven shacks were totally destroyed.

“A list of the affected was done and, at approximately 3pm, disaster relief (food and blankets) was issued to seven households or 23 individuals affected by the fire. The list will be sent to housing and social development tomorrow.”

Ngwenya said it must be noted that disaster management has staff on standby 24 hours a day.

“Our phone number, 043 743 7118, is a 24-hour number.

“I cannot agree or dispute that the councillor went to our office as the offices are indeed closed.”

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