The fire at a Joburg building which claimed the lives of three firefighters could have been avoided, says South African Federation of Trade Unions (Saftu) general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi.
A memorial service was held on Wednesday in honour of the firefighters – Simphiwe Moropane, Mduduzi Ndlovu and Khathutshelo Muedi – who died at the Bank of Lisbon Building in downtown Johannesburg last week while trying to put out a fire on the 23rd floor.
Vavi was among hundreds of mourners and he said the incident should never have happened.
“What is making us angry is that this thing shouldn’t have happened. The building didn’t have fire extinguishers. How can people work in such a building? We are going to sue them,” Vavi said.
Last week, the government-owned property was revealed to have been unsafe for occupation with many coming out to say that workers’ lives had been put in danger and that the government was to blame.
A day after the tragedy the Economic Freedom Fighters Gauteng chairperson, Mandisa Mashego, said that the party would open murder cases against the provincial government, which it accused of negligence.
“The three government departments are directly responsible for the murder of the three firemen. The government kills people in this province on a daily basis.
“They are killing people in hospitals, they are abusing every black person. We have clear evidence this building was not meeting safety standards,” she said.
Johannesburg mayor Herman Mashaba and businessman Kenny Kunene also attended the memorial held at Ellis Park Arena.
The memorial began with a wreath-laying ceremony outside the building where the men lost their lives. The family of one of the firefighters who had fallen to his death had also gathered at the same place to see where he had died.
The fireman’s wife also posted on Twitter, on the day he died, that she had lost her best friend and father of her children.
The memorial was highly emotional with some family members of the late firefighters crying for their loved ones during the speeches.