Johannesburg fire tragedy could have been avoided : Mashaba

Johannesburg fire tragedy could have been avoided : Mashaba

Former Johannesburg mayor and leader of ActionSA Herman Mashaba says the fire that killed 75 people in the Johannesburg CBD could have been avoided had city officials taken the issue of abandoned buildings seriously.

He was speaking to the media next to the building that was gutted by the fire in the early hours of this morning. Over 50 people are being treated for burn wounds and smoke inhalation at various hospitals.

Mashaba says, when he was mayor, he was attacked for wanting to tackle the issue of abandoned buildings.

“It’s unfortunate that this tragedy was avoidable, it lacked the political will for this city to be what it is today. What we see is a small matter in the bigger scheme of things. When I was Mayor of Johannesburg, I brought this issue to the attention of residents, that we are sitting with a huge challenge, the housing backlog was over 300 000. We had buildings hijacked, abandoned, and derelict. For some reasons, I was attacked, being called names, unleashed insults.”

Meanwhile, Gauteng Democratic Alliance leader Solly Msimanga says there are more buildings in the CBD that remain a threat to residents.

He calls for the enforcement of by laws:

President Ramaphosa sends condolences

President Cyril Ramaphosa has expressed his deep sadness at the significant loss of life inflicted by a fire in a building in Marshalltown, Johannesburg. He has offered his deep condolences to the families of the deceased and wished the injured survivors a speedy and full recovery.

He says he hopes the investigations into the fire will enable communities and authorities to prevent a repeat of such a tragedy.

Families looking for their loved ones 

Distraught families and relatives are continuing to flock to the scene. The victim’s bodies have been transported to Hillbrow and Diepkloof Government Mortuaries. The cause of the fire is being investigated. Bongikuthula Ntshagase is hoping to trace her two relatives who she spoke to last night.

“I am from the fireplace looking for relatives Nelisiwe Ntshangase and Somandla Zulu. They are from KZN, we cannot find them. We cannot get help because there’s no one to help us. The place is closed and cannot view the bodies. They do not allow us to come inside. In fact, we cannot get help. We are concerned because we do not know where our relatives and they used to stay in this building. We concerned too much.”

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