Amanda Watson
News Editor
2 minute read
10 Apr 2018
6:55 am

City of Joburg could have prevented tragedy – Seri

Amanda Watson

Joburg officials should have provided the families in the derelict building with safe accommodation, the Socio-Economic Rights Institute of South Africa says.

Emergency personnel stand next to the rubble of a collapsed wall in Davies Street, Doornfontein, Johannesburg. The collapse killed three children and injured two others while they were playing alongside it. Picture: Yeshiel Panchia

The families living in the abandoned building which partially collapsed yesterday, killing three children, had been asking the City of Joburg for emergency accommodation for eight months, director of litigation at the Socio-Economic Rights Institute of South Africa (Seri) Nomzamo Zondo said.

But none was provided,” said Zondo. “The residents have been aware that the building is unsafe for some time. Since mid-2017, Seri has been pressing the City of Joburg to provide the residents with emergency accommodation, which would have allowed them to move out of the dangerous building to safer accommodation elsewhere.”

Zondo said city officials produced a report in July 2017 for mayor Herman Mashaba, strongly recommending that the residents be provided with alternative accommodation.

The city did an audit of the residents in August 2017. Yet, for eight months thereafter, no steps were taken to provide them with a safe alternative,” said Zondo.

The city must do better. It is not acceptable that there is literally no accommodation available for people, such as the residents, who are living in profoundly unsafe conditions.

Tragedies like today’s wall collapse could be avoided if the city allocated more resources to basic, safe and decent accommodation to very poor people, such as the residents of Davies Street, as it is legally required to do.”

The building was part of the City of Joburg’s “bad building programme” and had been visited at least twice by Johannesburg Metropolitan Police Department officials in an effort to convince the people to move.

That’s according to member of the mayoral committee on public safety, Michael Sun, who told The Citizen the collapse killed two girls aged three and seven, and a boy aged 10.

Looking at the wall, I see there are two layers. The inner layer looks very shoddy, so from my perspective the wall was skew. It’s not a well-constructed structure, but a proper investigation will be conducted as to why or what caused the incident.

I can see a lot of additional structures pushing on this wall because it is an illegally occupied bad building,” said Sun.

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