Families of 3 deceased firefighters need closure

Gauteng MEC for health Bandile Masuku lays a wreath commemorating the three firefighters who died at the Bank of Lisbon building in the Johannesburg CBD last year. /THULANI MBELE
Gauteng MEC for health Bandile Masuku lays a wreath commemorating the three firefighters who died at the Bank of Lisbon building in the Johannesburg CBD last year. /THULANI MBELE

The City of Johannesburg says it needs more time to consult on the contents of a "sensitive report" into the cause of fire at the Bank of Lisbon building in the city centre last year.

The city was responding to complaints by relatives of firefighters who perished when the building caught fire, that they had been kept in the dark and are unable to find closure.

"Sensitive reports . need to be run through stakeholders . please give me some time to engage internal stakeholders on it . I must discuss it with my own executive, take it to council and then it can be given to the families before being released to the public," said Johannesburg city manager Ndivhoniswani Lukhwareni.

He said he has had the report for less than a week.

The family of one of the three firefighters who died in the building told Sowetan they were struggling to find closure as promises made to them were yet to be fulfilled.

Simphiwe Moropane, Mduduzi Ndlovu and Khathutshelo Muedi died a year ago at the Bank of Lisbon building during the fire that burnt for three days, causing havoc for the city and provincial government.

Yesterday, the provincial government and the City of Johannesburg remembered the fallen firefighters by laying wreaths at the site which is being cleaned ahead of demolition.

Robert Moropane, Simphiwe's father, told Sowetan on the sidelines of the commemoration that the government had failed to fulfill its promises made a year ago.

". they told us that they will give us a report as families so that we know [what] actually happened.

"Since March, I have been calling them requesting this report. I made my last call yesterday [Wednesday]. We have not received that report till today.

"We don't know what is causing the delay," he said.

The delay in seeing the report prevented the family from finding closure, Moropane said.

"How do you find closure when there is an open window which is bringing air inside the house? How do we find closure? How do we move on? The counselling that they spoke about that the children would get has [also] not been done," he said.

Moropane said since Simphiwe's death, the mother of his children has been struggling to take care of his two daughters - aged 14 months and four years.

The Bank of Lisbon building housed Gauteng human settlements; health; and cooperative governance and traditional affairs departments.

Workers who were housed in the building have since been moved to another building on 11 Diagonal Street.

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