Mbalula comes un­der fire

CRIT­I­CISM: UNION MAN AND MAYOR SLAM ‘IN­SEN­SI­TIVE’ COM­MENTS

The Citizen (Gauteng) - - NEWS - Cit­i­zen re­porter news@cit­i­zen.co.za

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. –

Pic­ture: Ce­bisile Mbo­nani

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.

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