Port Shepstone – With profound sorrow and deep concern, we regret to confirm yet another devastating loss of life due to a fire disaster in the Mkolombe informal settlement, situated in Port Shepstone along the KwaZulu-Natal south coast.
Our disaster management team from Ray Nkonyeni Local Municipality responded to a distress call at about 23:00 on Friday, after a concerned citizen reported the outbreak of flames within shacks at the Mkholombe Informal Settlement.
Ray Nkonyeni Fire Services were rapidly dispatched, supported by the Ugu Disaster team. Upon their arrival, they encountered a dire scene – unfortunately five shacks were engulfed in flames, tragically resulting in the loss of one life – a female in her late 20s.
We extend our deepest condolences to the bereaved family and friends affected by this heart-wrenching incident.
While the exact cause of the fire remains under investigation by the South African Police Service (SAPS), local residents suspect electrical faults may be to blame. Our preliminary assessments indicate that this unfortunate event has destroyed five households, leaving seven individuals without shelter. Regrettably, one fatality has been confirmed.
Alarmingly, this marks the third fire incident in the same vicinity that has led to the loss of another life. In the past weeks, we responded to the fire incident to Masinenge informal settlement, which is in the same vicinity as Mkolombe. As we continue to navigate the grip of winter season, we appeal to all residents, especially those residing in informal settlements, to exercise utmost caution when utilizing open flames such as paraffin stoves, gas appliances, and makeshift heaters.
Additionally, we emphasize the importance of vigilance around exposed low-lying electrical cables.
During our winter awareness campaign, we issued warnings with the intent of preventing any loss of life during this challenging season.
To the residents of the informal settlement, we urge heightened vigilance during this period, paying particular attention to potential hazards posed by low-lying, uncovered electric cables, as well as open flames and makeshift heaters.
Our Disaster Management team has been tirelessly active on the ground, extending vital relief to the affected victims. Up to now, blankets and disaster relief packages have been distributed to those currently seeking refuge within local community halls. We, as the department, have orchestrated the collaboration of various sector departments including Social Development and Human Settlements to facilitate the provision of identity documents and reconstruction materials.
Currently, our team is profiling the affected individuals to ensure they receive the necessary support in their journey to regain a sense of normalcy.
We would like to express our heartfelt gratitude to non-governmental organizations like the Red Cross and local businesses, who have offered a lifeline to the affected individuals.
Issued by MEC for Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Bongiwe Sithole-Moloi.