Joburg Fire: Firefighters remember fallen comrades

The City of Johannesburg's memorial service for three firefighters who died last week as they battled a blaze at the Bank of Lisbon building in the Johannesburg CBD got off to an emotional start on Wednesday.

An elderly man seated in a zone reserved for family members at the Ellis Park Arena could be seen breaking down uncontrollably as the service got underway. 

Simphiwe Moropane, 28, died after he slipped and fell from the 23rd floor of the building. He had run out of oxygen and had gone to the ledge to try to get air. 

The other two firefighters, Mduduzi Ndlovu, 40, and Khathutshelo Muedi, 37, died from lack of oxygen after they became trapped in the building.

Pictures of Moropane, Muedi and Ndlovu, surrounded by a wreath of flowers, were displayed near the arena's stage as hundreds of firefighters, emergency personnel, family members and officials gathered to remember the three. 

Ellis Park was filled to capacity as firefighters joined the emergency medical services band in song to pay tribute to their fallen comrades. Some of the firefighters wore T-shirts with the words "RIP to our heroes" printed on them. 

Member of the mayoral committee for public safety Michael Sun and City of Johannesburg Mayor Herman Mashaba, who remained at the scene of the fire last week until every firefighter was rescued from the building, are among some of the dignitaries who will address mourners during the course of the service. 

Unions have told News24 that they had raised concerns about safety issues at the building, which housed the Gauteng departments of health, human settlements and cooperative governance and traditional affairs, prior to Wednesday's fire. 

KEEP UPDATED on the latest news by subscribing to our FREE newsletter.

- FOLLOW News24 on Twitter