Without water firefighters were betrayed to die

Pictures of Simphiwe Moropana, Khathutshelo Muedi and Mduduzi Ndlovu who lost their lives while fighting the fire that burned the Bank of Lisbon building in the Johannesburg CBD.
Pictures of Simphiwe Moropana, Khathutshelo Muedi and Mduduzi Ndlovu who lost their lives while fighting the fire that burned the Bank of Lisbon building in the Johannesburg CBD.
Image: Tsepiso Ramosela

Firefighters who fought the deadly blaze at a Johannesburg building where three of their colleagues died, say they were let down by government.

They blamed non-compliance with occupational standards at the memorial service of the three firefighters held at the Ellis Park Arena on Wednesday.

Mduduzi Ndlovu, Simphiwe Moropana and Khathutshelo Muedi died while battling a raging fire at the building that housed three government departments last week.

The firefighters said the three died because the building did not have water. Muzikayise Zwane said his team was the first to respond.

"When we arrived I gave them all the equipment. One of them called me and said they were trapped and I told them to go to the roof," he said.

Zwane said a few moments later he heard a smashing sound of someone falling to the ground. "I couldn't see who it was because he was crushed."

Zwane said only when they searched Muedi's body and found his wallet, that is when they were able to identify him.

He said they were equipped but there was no water.

"The lack of water killed our brothers, we protect ourselves with water. Our government let us down," Zwane said.

Another firefighter Simphiwe Sibiya said the fire at the building was raging.

"We were on the 21st floor when I told my supervisor that we are going to get burnt. The flames were coming down." Sibiya said he was with Muedi and Moropana.
"I couldn't see Mdu, when I [eventually] saw him he was dead," Sibiya said.

Fairview fire station acting commander Mike Matlawe said they were neglected by the department of health.

"There is a disaster in the firefighters department everywhere. We want proper danger allowance. Government wait for something to happen before they act."

Matlawe said they will no longer respond to non- compliant buildings. EFF's Mandisa Mashego said the fire was started by corrupt individuals who wanted to cover up corruption.

SA Federation of Trade Unions' Zwelinzima Vavi said they would sue government for the deaths of the three.

At a memorial held at Ellis Park arena on Wednesday, September 12 2018, firefighters revealed gruesome details of what led to the deaths of their colleagues on the fateful day they were sent to extinguish a fire at the government-owned Bank of Lisbon building in central Johannesburg.

X