Joburg fire: Saftu plans to sue premier, MEC after three firefighters' deaths

The South African Federation of Trade Unions (Saftu) plans to sue those who knew that the Bank of Lisbon building was non-compliant with safety requirements prior to last week's deadly blaze.

"We have taken the decision to sue. We are going after you comrades. These are not chickens that died. These are human beings, sons, breadwinners etc. They will not die in vain," Saftu leader Zwelinzima Vavi warned during his address at a memorial service, held for those who lost their lives in the fire, at Ellis Park Arena on Wednesday.

Vavi was referring to Gauteng Premier David Makhura and MEC for Infrastructure and Development Jacob Mamabolo. Neither of them attended the service.

ALSO READ: 'Govt killed our brothers' – firefighter

His comments come after Mamabolo revealed last week that a report showed that the building was only 21% compliant when it came to health and safety requirements. 

"In that building, not one fire extinguisher was working. All of the water pipes had dried up. There was no water in that building. Lives should never have been lost due to negligence and incompetence," Vavi said. 

The Democratic Municipal and Allied Workers Union of South Africa (Demawusa) demanded a judicial inquiry into the tragedy. 

"If this inquiry uncovers criminal activity, so be it and the law must be enforced on those who have robbed three families of their breadwinners," the union's Stephen Faulkner told mourners. 

The union further called for reassurance that the firefighters' families would be taken care of. 

"Families must be reassured in 24 hours' time that their material needs be taken care off. Help those families now. These are minimum demands," Faulkner added. 

The unions believe that an incident such as the Bank of Lisbon fire should never happen again. 

READ: Mamabolo prepared to 'take the fall' for Joburg fire if a probe finds him guilty

"We are in a crisis. Enough is enough. Let this be the last time a firefighter falls to his death," Demawusa's Terrence Kgaffe concluded.

Firefighters Simphiwe Moropane, 28, and Mduduzi Ndlovu, 40, and Khathutshelo Muedi, 37, died last Wednesday when they attempted to put out the blaze.

Moropane plunged to his death, after he slipped from the ledge while trying to get air.  Ndlovu and Muedi died from lack of oxygen after they became trapped in the building.

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

- FOLLOW News24 on Twitter