INVESTIGATIONS into the death of three firefighters at the now demolished Bank of Lisbon building – which housed Gauteng Health Department and Human Settlement and Local Government – are set to be made public next month.
This was revealed by Gauteng Premier David Makhura in his written reply to questions by the DA’s health spokesperson Jack Bloom in the provincial legislature.
Bloom asked Premier Makhura what was the latest development regarding investigations into the fire at the building. The firefighters lost their lives when the fire broke out at the building on September 5, 2018.
In his reply, Makhura said on September 15, last year, then-acting Health MEC Jacob Mamabolo indicated that different state institutions were involved in the investigations into the fire – the SAPS; City of Johannesburg; provincial government and the Department of Labour.
Makhura said his office was coordinating with all agencies to ensure that all investigations were completed by the end of September.
“Different investigations are at various stages and those processes are also subjected to legal advice. Significant progress has been made towards meeting the timeline of end of September 2021. This will enable us to take appropriate action in line with the evidence from various investigations conducted by different local, provincial and national agencies or departments in line with their legislative mandate,” Makhura said.
Makhura acknowledged that it was in the public interest to publicly release all the outcomes of the investigations together with the remedial action that would be taken.
“Once all the investigations are completed by the end of September 2021, we will co-ordinate with the various agencies and departments of local, provincial and national government about the public release of the consolidated outcomes and relevant remedial action to be taken,” he said.
Makhura said the release of the report would be preceded by consultation with the families of the Johannesburg firefighters who lost their lives during the fire.
In his reply, Bloom said: “I am sceptical that this deadline will be met as previous promises to make findings public in this matter have not happened despite the pleas of trade unions and the families of those who died.
“Immediately after the fire I laid criminal charges of culpable homicide against the then-Health MEC Gwen Ramokgopa and Infrastructure Development MEC Jacob Mamabolo for negligence in not setting up a functioning Occupational Health and Safety Committee for the building, and for ignoring multiple warnings from unions and staff about the fire hazard,” he said.
Bloom said Makhura also needed to take accountability for this fire and the many other scandals in his administration, including the Life Esidimeni tragedy and the fire at the Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Hospital.
“It is unfortunate that long investigations allow politicians to evade accountability and add to the suffering of the victims.
“I will continue to press Makhura to ensure that all the investigation reports are made public soon and that recommendations are fully implemented, including criminal charges where warranted,” Bloom said.