Thu, 20 Feb 2020

A man who was accused of starting a blaze which engulfed scores of shacks in Alexandra, Johannesburg, has died, Gauteng police said on Friday.

Police spokesperson Captain Mavela Masondo said the man had died in hospital after he was allegedly assaulted by the community on Thursday.

"We are now investigating a case of murder," Masondo said.

At least 500 structures were reportedly affected by the blaze.

"We do not have evidence of an arson attack and we can't label it as such yet... but we are hoping that the man recovers in hospital so that we could obtain a statement," Masondo said earlier.

READ: Man hospitalised after Alexandra community accuse him of arson

Masondo appealed to the community not to take the law into their own hands and urged all those who had information about how the fire started to come forward.

Hundreds of people have been displaced and others have lost everything they had, except for the clothes on their backs. Some told eNCA that they were homeless and had "nowhere else to go".

At the same time, questions about adequate firefighting abilities have been raised, with Johannesburg Mayor Herman Mashaba blaming overpopulation in the city and surrounding areas, and "stretching limited resources to cover more people and communities".

"Government should help the City in dealing with undocumented foreign nationals and together, help us regulate proper structures in which people could live," Mashaba told News24.

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