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By Editorial staff

Journalist


What’s next? A terrible train derailment?

Comrade president, we hope we don’t hear the same words at the next tragedy.


Are there signs of hope in the ashes of destruction in Marshalltown, Johannesburg? Perhaps there are – although too late to save the 75 who died in the fire which gutted the five-storey hijacked building. The speed shown by politicians at all levels in blaming someone else may have been, counterintuitively, a sign that reality is gingerly taking hold in the minds of our rulers. ALSO READ: Families of 74 killed in Joburg fire urged to go to Diepkloof mortuary to identify loved ones Was their supposed anger and buck-passing – at apartheid, at nongovernmental organisations, at criminal syndicates –…

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Are there signs of hope in the ashes of destruction in Marshalltown, Johannesburg? Perhaps there are – although too late to save the 75 who died in the fire which gutted the five-storey hijacked building.

The speed shown by politicians at all levels in blaming someone else may have been, counterintuitively, a sign that reality is gingerly taking hold in the minds of our rulers.

ALSO READ: Families of 74 killed in Joburg fire urged to go to Diepkloof mortuary to identify loved ones

Was their supposed anger and buck-passing – at apartheid, at nongovernmental organisations, at criminal syndicates – indicative of their realisation that the blame for this tragedy really lies on their doorstep?

President Cyril Ramaphosa acknowledged as much when he said the catastrophe was a “wake-up call” for the government. Let’s hope it was, because there have been many chances over the past 30 years for politicians to awake from their post-feasting slumbers.

Social Development Minister Lindiwe Zulu may have blamed apartheid spatial planning – which concentrated workers far from their workplaces – but that does not excuse the fact nothing has been done for decades to halt the decline of the city of Johannesburg.

ALSO READ: Panicking Joburg CBD fire victims were ‘squashed against closed gate’

Long ago, the forces of law and order withdrew and handed it over to the criminals. Long ago, the city abandoned any serious efforts to clean up the place. Long ago the city of gold became a slum.

That neglect of basic infrastructure and services goes barely noticed by citizens – remember the frog boiling slowly in the pot, unaware of its impending fate? But it eventually leads to disaster and loss of life.

What’s next? A terrible train derailment? The collapse of a motorway flyover during rush hour?

There’s has already been a collapse of a tailings dam and a deadly cholera outbreak – both due to neglect of maintenance and inspection.

ALSO READ: ‘Joburg CBD building turned into informal settlement’ − EMS

Comrade president, we hope we don’t hear the same words at the next tragedy.

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Cyril Ramaphosa Fire Joburg Fire

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