Anastasi Mokgobu
2 minute read
6 Sep 2019
6:25 am

No closure for workers after Bank of Lisbon building fire

Anastasi Mokgobu

They said the building they were relocated to vibrated and shook and had other health risks, and management was again ignoring their concerns.

Gauteng Health MEC Bandile Masuku after unveiling the movable plaque at the Bank of Lisbon building in Johannesburg, 5 September 2019. Picture: Nigel Sibanda

One year after the fatal Bank of Lisbon building fire, the workers involved still feel unsafe and do not have closure due to the lack of consequence management.

Employees of the department of human settlements now also fear the building to which they were relocated, 11 Diagonal Street, poses similar dangers and could also be a death trap.

They said the building vibrated and shook and had other health risks, and management was again ignoring their concerns.

While the MEC of health Dr Bandile Masuku, families of the deceased firefighters and other stakeholders gathered outside the building to commemorate the deaths of Simphiwe Moropane, Mduduzi Ndlovu and Khathutshelo Muedi a year ago in the fire, more than 100 workers and members of National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union (Nehawu) marched to the building.

They demanded “a formal commemoration of the fallen heroes” and the release of the investigative report on the fire.

They accused the management of the department of health of being incompetent, irresponsible and corrupt.

The families laid flowers and candles were lit to remember the firefighters who died, but workers still do not have the answers they wanted, Nehawu’s Martin Ndwandwe said.

They had approached management about the report, but “no one would take accountability”, Ndwandwe said. “We have been making all kinds of noise to the employer requesting the forensic report. We demand to know what caused the fire at the Bank of Lisbon building.”

“We are still traumatised by the event but how are we supposed to heal when we don’t even know the cause of the fire?”

Democratic Alliance health spokesperson Jack Bloom said he also believed the department had failed workers and affected families.

“I sympathise with those who object to this commemoration because we have not seen any accountability,” he said. “It looks like they are hiding something by not making the forensic report public. People died and we need to know who was negligent in this matter.”

Spokesperson for the department of infrastructure and property management, Bongiwe Gambu, denied the claims about the building now housing departmental staff, adding “we can confirm that the building is safe”.

The department was committed to ensuring safety for workers.

Meanwhile, spokesperson for the department of health Kwara Kekana said they had not yet received the report, as the investigation had not been completed.

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