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'My taxi went up into the air and landed on another' - Joburg blast survivor

Witnesses relive Joburg CBD explosion mayhem

A trail of destruction on Bree, Rissik and Joubert streets in Johannesburg after an explosion caused a massive fissure which overturned vehicles.
A trail of destruction on Bree, Rissik and Joubert streets in Johannesburg after an explosion caused a massive fissure which overturned vehicles.
Image: Thulani Mbele

“The car went up into the air and landed on another taxi. I think that taxi saved us because we didn’t land on much impact.”

Mxolisi Khubeka whose vehicle, full of passengers, shot into the air when an unexplained explosion went off on Bree Street, described how a scene out of the movies played out when his taxi flew in the air before landing on another one.

He was driving in one of Johannesburg’s most busy roads during peak time traffic just after 5pm, when he suddenly felt the taxi ascending into the air. 

“The traffic was bad as usual during rush hour. I suddenly saw the car going up, but before that something went off. It was like a loud blasting sound. I think it was gas coming from underground, I don’t know,” Khubeka said.   


At least five taxis overturned while motorists were trapped inside their cars following an explosion in the Joburg CBD on Wednesday.

He said after the explosion there was chaos with multiple passengers coming out of taxis and cars trying to run to safety.  

Khubeka said he was not injured, but was not sure if anyone from his vehicle was injured.

Gauteng premier Panyaza Lesufi described last night’s scene as a miracle as there were no reported fatalities. “It’s a miracle that there are no fatalities,” Lesufi said.

"My fear is the management of disasters...I raised this in cabinet this morning because the disaster hit and people were still walking around [the scene]. If we had a second shock that absorbed people, we would be talking a different language right now. We need to properly manage disasters when they occur," Lesufi said.

He said nine people were injured and rushed to hospital. Lesufi said experts, including officials from Egoli Gas, were at the scene and people living in nearby buildings were evacuated while assessment of the extent of the damage was being conducted.

He said about 23 cars were found to have overturned during the explosion. 

“Some people  [who live in] these high-rise buildings will be evacuated and alternative accommodation will be provided as teams assess the integrity of the buildings around the area,” Lesufi said.

“This is a bad situation and that’s why we advised people to leave so experts can full assess the impact of the explosion and whether some buildings are safe."

Egoli Gas late on Wednesday said it was unlikely that the explosion was caused by a gas pipeline or leak.

"Our network has experienced no pressure loss which indicates the gas pipelines are intact. Our customers in the area continue to receive gas uninterrupted."

Thabo Motale from Mzimhlophe, Soweto, who works as a security guard, said he was en route to work when the incident happened.

He said he saw a huge white cloud in the air after a loud bang.

"Cars started overturning and we all ran out of the taxi. I am actually thanking my ancestors that I am still alive. I thought it was the end of the world. The first thing I did was to call my wife when I got to work and make her aware of the incident. I still cannot believe that I am alive," said Motale.

Street vendor Jeffrey Nemakonde said everyone ran away following the explosion.  "The electricity tripped, shops immediately closed and we were not able to work again.” 

ER24 spokesperson Russell Meiring said there were several overturned vehicles discovered along the road, which seemed to have been split wide open. 

“Medics set up a triage area a safe distance away while Fire and Disaster Services evacuated the general area. Initial reports from the scene showed that several people had sustained minor to moderate injuries. The patients were treated for their injuries and later transported by various services to nearby hospitals.” 

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