On Sat night 2 July, a fire outbreak damaged a building in Central Durban which housed Zimbabwean refugees. The fire destroyed most of their belongings including passports and other personal documentation. This building is one of the many commercial properties in Durban which have been converted to housing, comprised of small sized rooms, by unscrupulous businessmen to exploit desperate Zimbabweans. They are being charged exorbitant rentals in these buildings which are flouting municipal fire and health standards. These buildings are over crowded and have become health hazards due to poor maintenance and overcrowding.
Most of the Zimbabweans who were victims of this fire are now being housed in homeless shelters in Durban.
However, according to eye witness accounts at the scene the damage to property could have been minimal if the Fire Department personnel had acted more competently in putting out the fire. In addition, the Municipal Fire Department response to the scene was hours late and the residents helplessly watched as their possessions were consumed by the fire.