EFF opens murder case against Gauteng MECs over firefighters’ deaths

Firefighter Muzikayise Zwane said during the memorial service that firefighters had to use their hands to put out the fire as there was no water. (Renata Larroyd/M&G)

Firefighter Muzikayise Zwane said during the memorial service that firefighters had to use their hands to put out the fire as there was no water. (Renata Larroyd/M&G)

The Gauteng chair of the Economic Freedom Fighters, Mandisa Mashego, said the party has opened a case of murder against human settlements MEC Uhuru Moiloa, health MEC Gwen Ramokgopa, infrastructure development MEC Jacob Mamabolo and Premier David Makhura over the deaths of three firefighters.

Mashego announced the news at the memorial service for Simphiwe Moropane (28), Mduduzi Ndlovu (40), and Khathutshelo Muedi (37).

Several trade unions and political parties were late additions to the programme for the memorial service which was held at the Ellis Park Arena.

Trade unions and various political parties criticised the emergency medical services (EMS) management and government for the deaths of the three firefighters.

“Workers lives must be employers priorities,” general secretary of the South African Federation of Trade Unions Zwelinzima Vavi said during the memorial service for the three firefighters who died last week fighting a blaze at the Bank of Lisbon building in the Johannesburg CBD.

“Employees lives must always be a priority to employers. Lives must never be lost because of incompetence and negligence,” Vavi said.

He warned those responsible for the incident saying, “we are coming for you… we are going to sue you”.

Firefighters left after the head of the Democratic Municipal and Allied Workers Union of South Africa (Demawusa), Terrence Kgaffe, had addressed them.

Firefighters said they were only interested in what Kgaffe had to say because “only he really represents us”.

Kgaffe called for a list of all the buildings that are non compliant in the city and threatened that firefighters would not respond to fires in those buildings.

“We demand that the EMS be restructured. Station commanders, you are coming back to shift.”

Some firefighters in attendance agreed with Kgaffe and said they want a monthly danger allowance of R4 000 added onto their salary, saying that they “put our [their] lives at risk every day”.

An EMS official told the Mail & Guardian that firefighters currently did not get danger pay.

A lack of equipment was also raised as an issue.

“Sometimes there are not even gloves,” one firefighter from Witbank Emergency Management Services told the M&G on condition of anonymity.

Firefighter Muzikayise Zwane said during the memorial service that firefighters had to use their hands to put out the fire as there was no water.

READ MORE: #JoburgsBravest: ‘Government Buildings to blame’ for deaths of three firefighters

“There was no water [in the Lisbon building]. I couldn’t believe a government building could be like this,” said Zwane. “Government buildings killed our brothers.”

National officer at the South African Municipal Workers’ Union Stephen Faulkner called for firefighters to unite, because “We are all brothers”.

“We want a full judicial inquiry into that hell on earth.”

Gemma Ritchie

Gemma Ritchie

Gemma Ritchie works in the Mail & Guardian's online department. She majored in English Literature at a small liberal arts college in the USA. 
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    • Lawrence Mashiyane

      Lawrence Mashiyane

      Lawrence is a Third-year Linguistics and English Literature student at the University of Johannesburg. He is currently pursuing a career as a writer and editor.
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