#JoburgFire: Vic­tims hon­oured ...as City holds me­mo­rial ser­vice

Inner City Gazette - - Front Page - By Staff Re­porter news@in­ner-city-gazette.co.za

It was a sor­row­ful oc­ca­sion out­side the Bank of Lis­bon build­ing as mourn­ers gath­ered to re­mem­ber fallen fire­fight­ers who died in last week’s fire at the Lis­bon Build­ing in the Joburg CBD.

Sim­phiwe Moropane, 28, Mduduzi Ndlovu, 40, and Khathut­sh­elo Muedi, 37 were all killed while bat­tling a blaze at the build­ing - which houses the de­part­ments of Health, Hu­man Set­tle­ments as well as Co­op­er­a­tive Gov­er­nance and Tra­di­tional Af­fairs.

Eight oth­ers were hos­pi­talised with var­i­ous de­grees of in­juries and burns while at least 13 of­fi­cials from the provin­cial de­part­ment of health were hos­pi­talised and were treated for smoke in­hala­tion

A to­tal of 1115 em­ploy­ees were safely evac­u­ated from the build­ing.

A group of mourn­ers gath­ered out­side the build­ing to lay wreaths and flow­ers for the slain fire­fight­ers.

They were led in prayer and song be­fore be­ing ad­dressed by the Gaut­eng Health De­part­ment HOD Mkhu­l­uli Lukhele, who said the cer­e­mony was a way to “cleanse them­selves”.

The cer­e­mony was fol­lowed by a me­mo­rial ser­vice at the Ellis Park sta­dium.

City of jo­han­nes­burg Mayor Cllr Her­man Mashaba, in his speech said, “fire­fight­ers are a spe­cial broth­er­hood, the bonds of which are formed by the

om­nipres­ence of dan­ger - and Sim­phiwe, Khathut­sheli and Mduduzi were beloved mem­bers of that broth­er­hood.

“But noth­ing ex­em­pli­fies their great­ness as cit­i­zens more than their ul­ti­mate sac­ri­fice. The tragic events of last week should re­mind us of the in­cred­i­ble brav­ery of fire­fight­ers ev­ery­where.

When there’s a fire any­where in this City, our fire­fight­ers re­ply: “Send me.”

“When the call came that the Bank

of Lis­bon build­ing had caught fire and that the in­no­cent lives of em­ploy­ees of var­i­ous provin­cial gov­ern­ment de­part­ments were at risk, the men and women of the EMS did not hes­i­tate.

“And on Septem­ber 5, when the call came again, Fire­fight­ers Moropane, Muedi and Ndlovu did not wa­ver.

“They an­swered the call of duty, no doubt with the lives of oth­ers top of mind.

“Per­haps they were con­cerned for their own too.

“As they sped from their sta­tion to the Jo­han­nes­burg CBD, they fol­lowed the same treach­er­ous trail that count­less oth­ers had fol­lowed in the years be­fore.

“As they fi­nally ar­rived on the scene of the fire and caught a glimpse of the deadly blaze, they must have re­alised that there was no turn­ing back.

“They jumped in, as they had re­hearsed many times, and be­gan the task of en­gag­ing with the worst hor­ror any fire fighter could imag­ine.

“Trag­i­cally, cir­cum­stances, some of which they sim­ply should not have had to deal with, con­spired to make their res­cue ef­forts hell.

“They lost their lives un­nec­es­sar­ily,” he said.

Ellis Park was filled to ca­pac­ity as fire­fight­ers joined the emer­gency med­i­cal ser­vices band in song to pay trib­ute to their fallen com­rades. Some of the fire­fight­ers wore T-shirts with the words “RIP to our heroes” printed on them.

Mem­ber of the may­oral com­mit­tee for public safety Michael Sun who re­mained at the scene of the fire last week un­til ev­ery fire­fighter was res­cued from the build­ing, was among some of the dig­ni­taries who ad­dressed mourn­ers dur­ing the course of the ser­vice.

“A Joburg fire­fighter who was one the first peo­ple at the scene of last week’s deadly fire in the city cen­tre de­scribed how he tried in vain to save three of his col­leagues.

Mduduzi Ndlovu and Khathut­sh­elo Muedi died on the 23rd floor of the Bank of Lis­bon build­ing when were got trapped by the rag­ing flames.

“I’m hurt­ing... my heart is bro­ken but I have to con­tinue with life.”

Unions have said they had raised con­cerns about safety is­sues at the build­ing, prior to Wed­nes­day’s fire.

Pic­ture: MOSES MOYO

Of­fi­cials, res­i­dents and fire­fight­ers who fought the blaze with those who died, gath­ered at Bank of Lis­bon build­ing for a wreath lay­ing cer­e­mony for the three fallen fire­fight­ers.

Fam­ily mem­bers hon­our their loved ones dur­ing the wreath-lay­ing cer­e­mony at the Lis­bon Build­ing. Pic­ture Moses Moyo

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