Joburg fire: Mashaba says he previously raised safety concerns about buildings

The state of buildings within the City of Johannesburg has been a concern since the DA-led administration took office, according to Mayor Herman Mashaba. 

"On the 1st of December 2016, I raised the issue of the safety of buildings as well as how they contributed to crime and I was met with ridicule and name-calling," he said.

He was speaking at Ellis Park Arena on Wednesday at the City's official memorial service for the three firefighters who died in the blaze. According to Mashaba, the deceased were the city's "finest three firefighters".

Simphiwe Maropane fell to his death while trying to get oxygen on a ledge of the 23rd floor while his colleagues, Khathutshela Muedi and Mduduzi Ndlovu died from a lack of oxygen when they became trapped in the building.

Unions were at the memorial service and sought answers from the government about a report which indicated that the building was only 21% compliant with health and safety requirements.

"How can I argue against the call for government to account because the building did not meet requirements for compliance," Mashaba responded.

READ: Joburg Fire: 'Govt killed our brothers' – firefighter

The City will still assess the Bank of Lisbon building and establish whether it has the potential to function.

"Let's look closely and see if it should be salvaged or destroyed," Mashaba told mourners and emergency management services (EMS) officials.

Mashaba expressed his deepest condolences to the families of the firefighters.

"I cannot even imagine the pain and grief you are experiencing. I hope you can find peace in the profound gratitude of the people of Johannesburg," he said.

Mashaba also committed to fighting the scourge of derelict buildings in the city through the formation of a specialised task team. 

"We've identified 500 buildings that are hijacked, abandoned and in a bad state and do not meet compliance by-laws. Our specialised task team will work towards fighting this scourge," he concluded.

READ: There are over 500 problem buildings in City of Joburg – Mashaba