A firefighter who spoke during a memorial service of his three colleagues today, said the conditions at Bank of Lisbon building were undesirable and the building had no water, which made it difficult for them to work.
Mzukayise Zwane took to the podium during a memorial service of the fallen men and explained the difficulties they were faced with on September 5.
Zwane said the building was old and nothing was working, but to show dedication his colleagues walked up to the 23rd floor to put out the fire.
“My brothers deserve to be here today…When they got there, there was no water and it made it difficult for them to do their job.”
Zwane said he was disappointed by the government because instead of focusing on serious things, they spend money on themselves.
Simphiwe Moropane, 28, Khathutshelo Muedi, 37, and Mduduzi Ndlovu, 40, lost their lives as they battled the blaze at the Bank of Lisbon building. They had rushed there after a fire broke out on the 23rd floor.
It’s believed Moropane was the first to die after he slipped and fell out of a window on the 23rd floor. It is believed that he had run out of oxygen and had gone to the ledge to try to get air.
The other two men died of smoke inhalation.
Their memorial service was held at Ellis Park Arena in Johannesburg.
Hundreds of firefighters, Johannesburg Metropolitan Police Department (JMPD) and South African Police Service (SAPS) officials joined family members to celebrate the lives of the men.
The Bank of Lisbon building houses the Gauteng departments of health, human settlements, and cooperative government and traditional affairs.
It has since been revealed that the building was only 21 percent compliant with occupational health and safety standards, as opposed to 85 percent, which was the norm.
Simphiwe Sibiya, another firefighter who spoke during the memorial service, said the fire at the Bank of Lisbon building would not have been so “heavy” if the building complied with the occupational health and safety standards.
He said together with his colleagues, they managed to stop a fire at Premier David Makhura’s office because it complied.
South African Federation of Trade Unions general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi, who was also part of the gathering, said the fire could have been avoided and should have never happened
“I have never ever seen anywhere a government allowing people to work in a place where there is no fire extinguisher, where there is no water,” he said.
Some firefighters held a banner inside the venue and demanded R4 000 for danger allowance.
The firefighters will be buried on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
– African News Agency (ANA)