Mbalula comes under fire
CRITICISM: UNION MAN AND MAYOR SLAM ‘INSENSITIVE’ COMMENTS
Both agree government was to blame for unnecesary deaths of firefighters.
The South African Federation of Trade Unions (Saftu) has castigated ANC campaign head Fikile Mbalula for accusing firefighters who responded to the Bank of Lisbon Bank building blaze as being under-trained.
Saftu’s deputy general sectretary Moleko Phakedi said the idea that the firefighters were not trained enough to do their job was “nonsense”.
“These are trained firefighters who have been doing this for years,” he argued. “What I understand is that this [ANC] government may have failed to deliver equipment and protective clothing to these facilities.
“This government also allowed these workers to be subjected to a fire in a building which was deemed to be uninhabitable.
“It is unfortunate that this fellow [Mbalula] is so insensitive. He now wants to blame these underpaid workers. We are deeply offended by his statement and we reject it outright.”
Phakedi said it was the ANC government in the province which should take responsibility for the loss of life. He said Mbalula’s utterances exposed the level of arrogance and lack of accountability in the party.
The City of Johannesburg recently said that an investigation into the deaths was under way.
Johannesburg mayor Herman Mashaba and Mbalula got embroiled in a social media war of words yesterday after Mbalula’s comment.
Mashaba said Mbalula’s comments on Thursday were “unacceptable”.
“On behalf of the city of Johannesburg, I condemn efforts by Mbalula to impugn the memory of our brave firefighters by questioning their competence and training,” said Mashaba.
He said the pain experienced at the memorial service of the fighters on Wednesday engulfed all present as families of the firefighters, unions, other firefighters and the political leadership of the city mourned.
“The truth that is perhaps not known by Mbalula is that everyone present at the memorial service placed the blame for the tragedy squarely at the feet of the ANC,” continued Mashaba.
“The deathtrap that was called an office building saw our brave firefighters sent to certain death because the ANC did not care to remedy defects which made the building unsafe.”
This, according to Mashaba, was the reason firefighters and unions had given a clear directive that no ANC or provincial government member be permitted to speak at the memorial service.
Mashaba said Mbalula needed to reflect, as it was “deeply insulting to those who mourned together at the memorial service to now have somebody, who lacks the bravery to run into a burning building, question the competence and training of these three brave men”.
He suggested Mbalula stick to matters he was qualified to talk about and leave the memory of the firefighters alone. –
FINAL FAREWELL. Johannesburg mayor Herman Mashaba joined friends and family in saying their final goodbyes to firefighter Simphiwe Morope, who fell to his death on September 5.