Crowded Shelters in South Africa Leave Marshalltown Survivors Struggling

Many of the 501 survivors of the devastating Marshalltown fire last month have been left to reside in terrible conditions at shelters across the city.

When the former pass office at 80 Albert Street in Johannesburg caught fire, 77 people inside lost their lives. The search soon began for somewhere to house the victims.

Last Thursday, land belonging to the city was identified in the south of Johannesburg. But the residents of the suburbs of Glenvista, Glenanda, Kibler Park, Alveda and Mayberry Park came out in their numbers to protest against a government plan to put what they called “squatters” in their area.

Addressing angry residents, MMC for Transport Kenny Kunene told the residents: “We have cancelled the decision to relocate the people to the area due to residents being unhappy with the decision.”

He then assured them that the city had identified a different space where they would take the survivors of the tragic fire. However, no location has yet been announced.

Speaking to Scrolla.Africa on Monday, Nigel Branken of the activist group Kopanang Africa Against Xenophobia said the Hofland Park Recreation Centre, meant to be a temporary shelter, is now a symbol of despair.

He said the place is overcrowded, unsanitary, and lacks basic necessities, falling far short of providing the dignified support these victims deserve.

“The government’s declaration of a state of disaster is a critical step, one that must trigger an immediate and comprehensive response,” he said.