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By Shanice Naidoo

Digital Journalist

WATCH: Two blocks from deadly Marshalltown blaze, another Joburg CBD building up in flames

The fire broke out on the first floor at a suspected hijacked building, with firefighters on the scene battling the blaze.

Less than two weeks after a devastating fire left over 70 dead and dozens injured, another fire broke out two blocks away in the Johannesburg CBD.

The fire broke out on the first floor of a three-storey building, which is suspected to be hijacked, in which residents had set up shacks.

“There are no injuries reported yet. Everyone was evacuated,” EMS spokesperson Xolile Khumalo told The Citizen.

Some were being treated on the scene for smoke inhalation.

When emergency services arrived on the scene, they were told a shack was on fire at the back of the building.

“When we went inside, we realised there was not one shack burning. The amount of damage and the nature of the blaze indicated there were more, but we are still investigating. It was terrible,” fighterfighter Moses Malebatho said.

ALSO READ: Latest Joburg CBD fire victims won’t be allowed back into the building- Brink

127 shacks were found to be intact in the building.

Inside the building

The inside of the building was a scene of burnt devastation, with rubbish spewn all over the floor. Broken windows illuminated damaged and charred walls. Dark passages led to rooms largely left intact by the fire.

The rooms held paraffin stoves and makeshift beds. The smell of smoke and paraffin filled the air.

Rats run riot, with those who live there saying they are large enough to eat birds.

Outside the building, a man stared into the distance, contemplating his future after losing his home and all that he owned. He said he rushed from work to the building after hearing it was on fire.

A resident said there were around 1,000 people living in the building at the time of the fire, some not paying rent.

They said they noticed a fire and ran for their lives, worried they would meet the same fate as those who died earlier this month.

ALSO READ: ‘We need an independent probe into Marshalltown fire’ – Lesufi

They lost everything.

“I got nothing out. I was scared of the other fire. I don’t know how it started, I just ran for my life,” said Karen Sibanda.

Another said he smelt fire and ran to other rooms on the floor to try rescue other families.

“This is painful. We have lived here for so long. It has been peaceful. I don’t know what will happen now,” added Sphamandla Zungu.

They said the building was serviced with water and electricity, which authorities later said was connected illegally.


Speaking on the scene, City of Johannesburg manager Floyd Brink told The Citizen that occupants of the building would be evicted.

“We are anticipating this will be challenged but we do not care. There is no way we are going to allow them to go back in there. Something needs to be done.”

He said the building would be declared unsafe and sealed.

He later said the building was privately-owned, with the owner believed to be overseas, but had been hijacked and a “landlord” was collecting rent of about R1,200 from residents.

This is a developing story

Reporting by Shanice Naidoo and Faizel Patel

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