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At Least 73 People Dead, Dozens Injured In Johannesburg Building Blaze

The city’s Emergency Management Services said the casualties may still increase.

The death toll in a building that got engulfed with flames in the early mornings of Thursday in Johannesburg, South Africa, has increased to 73 people. 

According to the BBC, Spokesperson for Johannesburg’s Emergency Management Services (EMS), Robert Mulaudzi, reported that the casualties included seven children and an 18 months old infant. Additionally, over 50 people have sustained injuries.

Authorities say that the cause of the fire is still unclear.

During a press briefing, the authorities of Johannesburg officially acknowledged their ownership of the building, however, they indicated that the building had been seized by criminal syndicates.

When questioned about whether his governing body would accept blame for the unfortunate incident, Kabelo Gwamanda, the Mayor of Johannesburg, responded that the government was addressing the problem of criminal groups illegally seizing buildings, a concern spread throughout the city.

Lebogang Maile, the official in charge of housing in the region, mentioned that there existed a persistent housing issue in the locality, with around 1.2 million individuals actively seeking accommodation.

Joburg Transport MMC Kenny Kunene said that South African laws protect criminality.

He said, “The biggest challenge for us in the city, when we try to respond to this, is the law. The law of South Africa protects criminality.

“The property laws of South Africa protect criminals who hijack buildings.

“The problem is the law because the law says before you can take them out, you have to find an alternative place for them even if they are illegal in the country.”

Malaudzi also mentioned that the structure had been deserted in the past. However, individuals without homes sought refuge inside during the present chilly winter period.

He included that because there was no official agreement or lease for the place, it wasn’t being adequately maintained and scattered materials had significantly complicated efforts to locate and save individuals.

Frances Ibiefo

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