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Watch: Durban residents panic after chemical fire leaves noxious smell

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DURBAN – A chemical fire in the industrial basin of Durban late on Friday afternoon left residents coughing and battling to breathe, according to community members.

The fire occurred at Hosaf, a fibre plant based in Mobeni, south of Durban, that manufactures polyethylene terephthalate resin and polyester fibre.

Rescue Care’s Garrith Jamieson said paramedics were called to the factory fire at about 4pm. “Fortunately no injuries were sustained, however the fire department and all necessary role players were in attendance.”

By 6.30pm, residents from the Bluff and Umbilo areas had reported “a strong plastic smell”, he said, as a strong wind carried the fumes over a wide area.

Residents from as far as 10 kilometres away told African News Agency (ANA) they had experienced the stench.

KwaZulu-Natal MEC for economic development, tourism and environmental affairs Nomusa Dube-Ncube said “a team of experts” had been assigned to examine the area.

“As government, we are fully aware that the South Durban Basin is heavily air-polluted with many people experiencing respiratory illnesses. It can’t be business as usual,” said Dube-Ncube

Desmond D’Sa, who lives in the Jacobs area and heads the South Durban Community Environmental Alliance (SDCEA), said the fire and stench was as a result of Dowtherm, a compound used in industrial heat transfer systems.

“It has affected our eyes and it has affected our skin. Our eyes were burning. A lot of children were affected. Old people and babies have been particularly badly affected,” D’Sa said.

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He said the plant was shut following the incident and the SDCEA was expecting to meet with management.

ANA understands that the incident had been escalated to the national department of environmental affairs.

Berea resident Robert Smith said the smell was “overbearing”.

“The stench was so noxious that my family had to shut all the windows. At one stage we even considered leaving the area for the evening. Our mouths were dry and eyes were stinging, my wife got a massive headache,” he said.

The fire follows a chemical spill in Pietermaritzburg on Wednesday, which had also been escalated to the national department of environmental affairs.

In that incident, vegetable oil and caustic acid spilled into the Baynespruit stream and subsequently into the Msunduzi River, killing fish and livestock.

Clean-up operations were still being undertaken on Friday.

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Skeem Saam’s Koko Mantsha death dismissed as fake news

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Koko Mantsha, the popular Skeem Saam character acto, real name, Lydia Mokgokoloshi is not dead.

Social media is awash with news of her death which seems to have been fuelled by fake news sites aiming to profit from unsuspecting lovers of the 80 year-old veteran actress.

Lydia Mokgokoloshi, has appeared in many television shows including Muvhango and Bophelo ke semphego.

Mokgokoloshi was born on 27 September 1939, in Polokwane, Polokwane Local Municipality, Capricorn District Municipality, Limpopo.

She is most famous for acting as Koko Mantsha the grandmother of Katlego Pietersen (Patrick Seleka) in the soap, Skeem Saam.

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Watch: Thulani Dlomo an alleged ‘Zuma spy’, hands himself in

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Thulani Dlomo, the axed former SSA top spy and former SA ambassador to Japan has handed himself over to police on Friday.

Dlomo’s lawyer Philani Shangase said that he handed himself over at his own will at the Durban Central Police station on Friday.

He said Dlomo was not arrested but wanted to clear his name following media reports.

Dlomo was being interviewed by police officers at 17h00 on Friday.

“He has denied all wrong doing,” Shangase said.

Dlomo was suspected to be one of the instigators of the unrest in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng.

This is a developing story.

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Residents warned against consuming dead fish washing up at Umhlanga and Umdloti beaches – video

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The eThekwini Municipality has sent out a warning to residents against collecting and consuming dead fish and crayfish that have washed up on the beaches of Umhlanga and Umdloti, north of Durban.

The public has been asked to refrain from fishing, surfing and swimming on the beaches after a video of the dead fish on the beaches emerged on social media.

The municipality said it was investigating what caused the marine life to die.

“It is considered serious and can affect one’s health if collected and consumed.”

According to reports, run-off water and chemicals reached the ocean through storm water drains after firefighters battled a blaze at a chemical plant at Cornubia started by looters on Tuesday.

WATCH | Outrage after several monkeys and dog poisoned in Umdloti

“The public is advised to refrain from all recreational activities, including fishing or surfing, bait collection and picking up of dead species in this area,” said the municipality.

“Collecting or harvesting of any marine living resource in the area is temporarily prohibited until the cause is determined and the threat has abated.

“Authorities are investigating the source of the pollution and cleanup companies are trying to contain the spill.”

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