South Africa 12.9.2018 04:56 pm

Saftu to sue govt over deadly Joburg blaze – Vavi

A firefighter breaks down after learning about his colleagues' deaths in a fire in the Gauteng Department of Health and the Department of Human Settlements building on Sauer Street in the Johannesburg CBD, 5 September 2018. Picture: Neil McCartney

A firefighter breaks down after learning about his colleagues' deaths in a fire in the Gauteng Department of Health and the Department of Human Settlements building on Sauer Street in the Johannesburg CBD, 5 September 2018. Picture: Neil McCartney

The Gauteng premier was accused of sending firefighters to their deaths as he knew the building was unsafe, but allowed it to be used.

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 the 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.

African News Agency (ANA)

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