Monday 5 July 2010

Fires in Kennedy Road and Encouraging Lessons from the World Cup

The following Statement on the fires in Durban’s Kennedy Road Informal Settlement was issued on Monday 5 July 2010

‘My heart is very sore at the terrible scenes of devastation in Kennedy Road’ said Archbishop Thabo Makgoba, following the weekend’s massive fires which saw 2 dead and over 2000 left homeless. Addressing the wider needs of those in informal settlements, he added ‘yet the overwhelming success of the World Cup shows that with focus, commitment, hard work and perseverance, we can achieve our goals – we must confidently apply the same effort to service delivery promises.’

Writing to the Bishop of Natal, Rubin Philip, in whose Diocese lies the informal settlement, Dr Makgoba assured the Bishop and people of the Anglican Church in Southern Africa's prayerful support. 'Our hearts go out to those who have lost loved ones, who have been injured, and who have lost homes and livelihoods. We hold them all in our prayers and in our love, and especially remember before God those who have died. May all in need hear the still small voice of God within the anguish and chaos they face, bringing comfort and strength in the days ahead. I encourage our churches and parishioners to offer what help they can, whether through prayer upholding all who have died, been injured or displaced, or providing practical assistance wherever possible.

At the same time, the Archbishop of Cape Town called for greater political commitment and practical action to address the legitimate needs of the inhabitants of Kennedy Road. ‘They have fought long and hard to achieve their rights, as citizens and residents of this country which now claims to be have one of the most advanced democratic systems in the world, and yet they are still left yearning for justice to be done in their life time. They have been ignored too often. I therefore urge the Province, under Dr Zweli Mkhize, and the Municipality to have the compassion that moves them to swift and effective action in responding to the housing needs of Abahlali, and their other longstanding concerns.’

Dr Makgoba went on to say ‘The continuing existence of settlements such as Kennedy Road are a permanent reminder that not all for which we struggled has yet been achieved. There is still so much to be done, especially in the provision of such basic services as water and sanitation as well as proper shelter. However, I want to encourage government at every level not to feel daunted by the great challenges that still remain in all areas of service delivery. The overwhelming success of the World Cup has shown that South Africans can achieve our goals, when we are focussed and committed, and prepared to work hard with perseverance. If we apply the same effort and confidence to service delivery, there is no doubt that we can deliver on our promises to our people. I shall certainly be praying for and contributing to this outcome, as best I can.’

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