Joburg fire leaves students traumatised, suffering from smoke inhalation

2018-09-07 01:13

The Joburg city centre fire which has claimed the lives of three fire fighters has also affected students who reside near the building.

University of Johannesburg students who reside at City Waldorf student accommodation said they were badly affected by fire that took place at the Bank of Lisbon building in the inner city.

The fire was allegedly caused by an electrical fault, at the building which was shared by the departments of health, human settlements and cooperative governance. 

Donald Sibanyoni, a student leader and a member of the house committee, said the students who witnessed the death of a fire fighter who fell from the building while battling the blaze were disturbed by the incident.

“Some of the students are psychologically disturbed because they witnessed the falling of the guy from the 23rd floor all the way to the ground. Some of them were having academic obligations to attend and write tests, but because of what they saw, they cried all day long,” said Sibanyoni.

He said they have referred those students to the UJ Centre for Psychological Services and Career Development.

Sibanyoni also said the smoke was getting worse and was making it even harder to concentrate on studies or to sleep.

“The students are concerned about the smoke inside their rooms; even now there is still smoke in the rooms. We were advised by the EMS guys to close all of our windows.” 

He said “students are not comfortable in the building anymore”. 

“Government officials from the department of social development should come and engage with our students and assist those who need help with counseling, because it is very much necessary.” 

The building had been burning from Wednesday morning and the fire seemed to have reignited on Thursday with more floors catching fire.

Gauteng Premier David Makhura was seen visiting the student accommodation for what appeared to be a private meeting as the media was not allowed to enter. 

When asked how the government was planning to help the students, Gauteng government spokesperson Thabo Masebe said UJ must be contacted about the matter because the accommodation was not one of their buildings.

However, the fire was eventually put out and the students were moved to a building across the road to protect them from the smoke.

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March 17 2019