The firefighters who were inside the building when their colleagues died pay homage to them. PHOTO: ANA

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Trade federation Saftu to sue govt for deadly Joburg blaze

JOHANNESBURG, September 12- General Secretary of the South African Federation of Trade Unions (Saftu), Zwelinzima Vavi, said they will sue government for the deadly blaze which claimed the lives of three firefighters at the Bank of Lisbon Building in Johannesburg CBD last week.

“How do you send firefighters in a building when you know there are no fire extinguishers? We’re going to sue them on behalf of those families and on behalf of those workers,” Vavi said during a memorial service held at Ellis Park Arena for the three firefighters.

“We do not go to these work places to sell our lives and our limbs. But it happens because of the uncaring government, a terrible twin of a capitalistic system,” Vavi said.

Vavi said the Premier of Gauteng, David Makhura, knew that the building had only 21% compliance with fire and safety regulations and still allowed it to be used. He accused Makhura of sending firefighters to their deaths.

The Bank of Lisbon building houses the Gauteng departments of health, human settlements, and cooperative government and traditional affairs.

Simphiwe Moropane, 28, Khathutshelo Muedi, 37, and Mduduzi Ndlovu, 40, lost their lives as they battled the blaze in the building.

A firefighter who spoke during the memorial service also blamed the government for the deaths of his colleagues.

“Government killed the people. We never expected to find a government building that did not comply. There was no water in that building,” said Mzukayise Zwane.

The firefighters will be buried at the weekend.

Hundreds of firefighters paid tribute to fallen heroes outside the bank of Lisbon Building in the Johannesburg CBD.

Emergency services, Johannesburg Metro Police, family and friends gathered outside the building to commemorate Mduduzi Ndlovu, Khathutshelo Muedi and Simphiwe Moropana who died last week while battling a blaze in the Joburg CBD.

Firefighters, wearing their uniforms, sang and comforted each other at the wreath laying ceremony. Some of the victim’s family members were unable to contain their emotions when they arrived at the building where their loved ones lost their lives.

Grieving relatives comforted each other, their wails piercing a sombre gospel tune played by a brass band.

Gauteng Economic Freedom Fighter (EFF) Chairperson, Mandisa Mashego said both the Municipality and provincial government should be blamed for the deaths of the three firefighters.

“We have opened the case of murder against MEC for human settlement, MEC for Health and Gauteng Premier,” said Mashego.

Saftu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi said what was making them angry was that the tragedy should never have happened.

“This thing should have been avoided, how can government allow people to work in a building which doesn’t have fire extinguisher and water,” said an angry  Vavi.

A memorial service for the three fallen firefighters was underway at Ellis Park Arena. (ANA)

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