Shack Fire Kills Disabled Teen In Greenwood Park

shack fire
Johnson Mgenge, a community leader at the Thandanani informal settlement, points to the spot where a fire started. The fire burned about 40 shacks. Picture by Sibonelo Ngcobo African News Agency (ANA )

DURBAN – The family of a disabled teen who died in a shack fire will bury her this weekend in Umzinto near Durban, KwaZulu-Natal.

The 13-year-old girl was burnt to death in a fire that destroyed more than 40 shacks at the Thandanani informal settlement near Greenwood Park on Saturday.

Myalezo Ngidi, the father of Zama, said he had gone to his family home in uMzinto, leaving his disabled daughter in the care of her 17-year-old brother.

Ngidi said he heard the news on Saturday evening, but could not return to Durban because there were no taxis available. He could only return on Sunday morning.

Adding to his trauma, Ngidi was turned away when he went to identify Zama’s body as he did not have an identity document or his daughter’s birth certificate.

“My ID was burned in the fire and now I have to go to Home Affairs to sort out these documents,” he said.

Ngidi said he was sad as he was also still grieving for Zama’s mother, who died earlier this year.

Johnson Mgenge, a community leader in the settlement, said the fire began late on Saturday afternoon.

“We heard someone screaming ‘Fire! Things are burning!’ Within a few minutes the fire had consumed many shacks as people scrambled to put it out,” he said.

Mgenge said he called the fire department and went to Ngidi’s shack, where he found Zama’s body. “She was badly burnt,” he said.

Mgenge said it was painful that Zama could not scream out for help because she was unable to speak and also had mental disabilities. “This hurts me deeply,” he said.

KwaZulu-Natal police spokesperson Captain Nqobile Gwala said an inquest docket had been opened.