Kempton Park fire

Image via Twitter: Bogolosh

Kempton Park: Pomona informal settlement fire displaces over 900 people

Ninety-five percent of Pomona residents refused to be relocated.

Kempton Park fire

Image via Twitter: Bogolosh

Pomona informal settlement residents in Kempton Park are trying to rebuild their homes after losing all their belongings in a fire. The 30 September 2019 blaze destroyed around 250 shacks on the Great North Road towards Benoni.

On Tuesday morning, the Ekurhuleni Disaster and Emergency Management Services was back at the scene to help families. They assisted them in cleaning up the area and to salvage whatever belongings they had left.

A number of residents were seen standing on the sides of a road with their belongings lining up the street. Those affected said they lost important documents like their Identity Documents (ID).

Pomona residents disgruntled to relocate

Ekurhuleni Emergency Services spokesperson, Aaron Mafunda said the fire broke out in the evening. Firefighters were able to bring the blaze under control at approximately midnight without any fatalities.

Disaster management also began the process of finding alternative accommodation for those affected. However, Mafunda revealed that most of the community wasn’t keen on moving saying:

“Disaster management was on scene and they tried to get alternative accommodation for them, but about 95% of the community refused to move and wanted to stay in the area despite appeals that their belongings would be safe.”

Aaron Mafunda, Ekurhuleni Emergency Services spokesperson

Those affected not pleased with how firefighters handled blaze

Executive Mayor of Ekurhuleni Municipality, Mzwandile Masina visited the Pomona informal settlement on 1 October 2019. Source: Twitter/@Gauteng ANC

An unnamed resident from Pomona said the community was disappointed with the performance of the firefighters. They accused them of not attending to the fire urgently.

They were also not pleased that the disaster management team was not present. The resident complained:

“[Living here] is like hell, the cost of living, we are just staying here because it’s close to work. It’s difficult for us.”

Pomona, Kempton Park resident

People who lost all their possessions in the fire are asking for assistance in rebuilding their lives. A WhatsApp support group was set up to assist the homeless in days to come, according to Kempton Express.

The group was full within a few hours and a second one was created to accommodate those displaced. The NG Church Bonaero Park on Malpensa Street is now available as a drop-off point for clothes, blankets, food, water, and other necessities.

The response by South Africans has been truly uniting as a number of people have already dropped off some much needed goods. Those willing will be temporarily taken to the city hall and Dries Niemandt Park.

Executive Mayor of Ekurhuleni Municipality, Mzwandile Masina visited the informal settlement on Tuesday. The cause of the fire hasn’t yet been determined but it is being investigated by authorities.