Joburg under siege: ‘No accidents but foul play’, says municipal manager

Several buildings have come under fire with one fire killing more than 70 people and seriously injuring dozens of people.


The Joburg municipal manager believes the city is under siege following the recent building fires – and he blames foul play. Floyd Brink said the council has had discussions with other officials in the city about various fire incidents and he believed there might be foul play. “At this point, anything is possible, we do have fires in the city from time to time but with this spate of fires we have seen in the past few weeks, I cannot help but believe some of them might be accidents, but I still believe they might be driven by something else,”…

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The Joburg municipal manager believes the city is under siege following the recent building fires – and he blames foul play.

Floyd Brink said the council has had discussions with other officials in the city about various fire incidents and he believed there might be foul play.

“At this point, anything is possible, we do have fires in the city from time to time but with this spate of fires we have seen in the past few weeks, I cannot help but believe some of them might be accidents, but I still believe they might be driven by something else,” Brink said.

Several buildings have come under fire with one fire killing more than 70 people and seriously injuring dozens of people.

“We are under siege as a city,” Brink said. “I can’t pinpoint what it is at this point but we will be doing some investigations. I still believe there might be foul play somewhere in the system that leads to these fires, but we are definitely under siege as the city of Joburg.”

Regarding the explosion at Lilian Ngoyi Street formerly known as Bree Street, Brink said he did not believe there was any foul play that caused the incident.

“We do not believe that but we do not know the ignition source,” he said.

EMS spokesperson Robert Mulaudzi said they did not want to dwell on whether the fires were intentionally started or accidents as they only responded to fires.

“We specialise in responding to the incidents, we can not say whether they are deliberate or not,” Mulaudzi said.

Dr Johan Burger of the Institution for Security Studies (ISS) said despite the reason for the fires being unknown, it was suspicious that the fires happened one after the other.

It raised questions about other possibilities than them being just random fires, Burger said.

“Without solid evidence, we have to speculate, but if you look at the sequence of these fires and the fact that it is one building after another, nobody would blame you if you ask questions whether these were accidents that happened because of the state of neglect of these buildings.

“I think there is much more to this than accidental fires – but then again, I am very cautious when I say this because I do not have any evidence of anything untoward.”

Trucks were recently torched countrywide, while in July 2021 malls and several warehouses were torched after the arrest of former president Jacob Zuma.

Questions have been raised on whether there were any connections with the recent building fires.

Burger, however, believed there might be a link between undocumented foreigners and the resistance among South Africans to the migrations into the city and them taking over many buildings.

“That might be a reason, but we do not have any evidence. “There might be some links to xenophobic feelings.

“We have seen some organisations blaming illegal foreigners in Johannesburg and surrounding areas as the cause of socioeconomic problems,” Burger said.

Crime intelligence was on top of these issues, he said, however, because of no communication from the unit it seemed like they were not probing any possible links between these fires.

“This is what crime intelligence is supposed to be doing. Whether they are doing this, we do not know because they are not telling us.”

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