"Illegal mining did not cause the Joburg explosion"- City Manager

Five taxis overturned in the Johannesburg CBD.
Five taxis overturned in the Johannesburg CBD.
Image: Thulani Mbele

Johannesburg City Manager has ruled out the possibility of illegal mining being responsible for Wednesday's gas explosion.  

Floyd Brink, who was giving a technical update of their investigation on Friday afternoon, said their investigation shows that no humans live in the tunnels that run in the belly of the CBD

Showing the media pictures taken with a drone inside the tunnels, he assured that the explosion was caused by gas and not illegal mining. 

“Through the drones dispatched underground there is no one living in the tunnels because there is water. So, it is not an issue of zama-zamas or nyaope boys cutting cables. It was pure gas," he said.

He said since it was not safe to go underground the experts were yet to determine where the gas leak came from. The assurance comes after allegations by experts that there was a huge possibility that illegal mining caused the disaster that left 48 injured and one dead.

Brink further said they will restore electricity and other essential services that were suspended after the explosion by Monday. He further said the affected streets will continue to be cordoned off for safety reasons.

“We are now beginning to see a decrease in the presence of the gas in that particular area and it should soon be safe to allow for the restoration of power and other services by Monday next week. At the moment 25 chemical toilets, five stationary water tanks have been stationed in the area. We have now deployed the disaster management and our social management development team to assist the families with warm meals. Until such a time we are sure that the power will be restored and the area will be safe. We wish to caution the residents not to interfere with the boundaries and not to enter.," he cautioned. 

Brink said nine residential buildings have been inspected and the findings show that they are safe for occupation.

“The integrity check was done specifically within the basement areas. However, we've struggled to gain access to one of the high-rise buildings. We will finalise the test once we can gain access and we can indicate to you that we've managed to trace the owner of the building. All the Egoli Gas valves have been completely closed at this stage and our technical teams assure us that they are in in the process of isolating the area from their system.” 

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