Res­i­dents desti­tute after deadly in­ferno at hi­jacked flats


RES­I­DENTS of the hi­jacked Cape York build­ing were back in the nine-storey block of flats in the Joburg CBD a day after it caught fire, killing seven res­i­dents.

Yes­ter­day, it ap­peared to be busi­ness as usual in the build­ing on the cor­ner of Nugget and Jeppe streets, which is no­to­ri­ous for pros­ti­tu­tion and drug abuse.

The dev­as­tat­ing fire was al­legedly started by an an­gry res­i­dent who had ap­par­ently lost out on a room.

Although the build­ing was deemed un­safe and in­ac­ces­si­ble due to an on­go­ing in­ves­ti­ga­tion, some of the res­i­dents were seen en­ter­ing and leav­ing.

They claim to have no al­ter­na­tive ac­com­mo­da­tion.

Ac­cord­ing to the ward coun­cil­lor, Nokuthula Xaba, the build­ing was a crime scene and no­body was al­lowed ac­cess.

She added that the na­ture of the crime re­quired the build­ing to be in­ac­ces­si­ble for a min­i­mum of three days.

The forced evic­tions shortly after Wed­nes­day’s fire dis­placed many res­i­dents, in­clud­ing moth­ers with young chil­dren who spent the night out on the cold pave­ment in Goud Street.

En­raged oc­cu­pants said they were wor­ried about their safety.

One res­i­dent, Con­stance Lubando, said she was un­able to find an­other place to stay and was forced to re­turn to the build­ing.

“It’s not safe out here and our prop­erty is be­ing looted by thieves,” she said.

A frus­trated mother-of-three said she was in­fu­ri­ated that her fam­ily had to spend a cold night on the streets while other res­i­dents il­le­gally oc­cu­pied the build­ing.

“I am tired be­cause my kids and I slept out­side while others slept in­side,” she said.

Sev­eral or­gan­i­sa­tions, such as the SA So­cial Ser­vices Agency, Food­bank SA and the Ad­ven­tist Com­mu­nity Ser­vice, were present to of­fer aid in the form of meals and blan­kets.

The so­cial de­vel­op­ment agency dis­trib­uted blan­kets to sev­eral moth­ers and ba­bies who had been af­fected.

Xaba said the City of Joburg must take over find­ing the dis­placed fam­i­lies ac­com­mo­da­tion.

She im­plored people to do­nate food, clothes and blan­kets for the desti­tute.

“We need open hands; help, help please,” she pleaded.

BUSI­NESS AS USUAL: The nine-storey block of flats on the cor­ner of Nugget and Jeppe streets in the CBD a day after it caught fire, killing seven people.

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