THE BULIDING that claimed lives of three fire-fighters and injured 8 on Wednesday was declared inhabitual, according to National Education and Health Allied Workers' Union (Nehawu).
The union claims it warned the provincial Government about defects and substandard health regulations in the building since 2014, that resulted in some of shop stewards being dismissed, says Nehawu Gauteng provincial secretary Tshepo Mokheranyana.
This morning we visited the building that is not far from the ANCs Luthuli House, and black smoke was still smouldering all over. It housed health, human settlements and cooperative governance departments.
At least 13 officials from the provincial department of health have also been hospitalised and were treated for smoke inhalation.
City emergency services spokesperson Nana Radebe says the fire was reignited hence smoke is still all over.
Pixley kaSeme as well as Albertina Sisulu streets will remain closed on Thursday to clean up debris.
Gauteng MEC for infrastructure development Jacob Mamabolo indicated that the building was only 21% compliant with safety regulations.
“The building simply does not comply with safety and health regulations. Government officials will stay at home until there is a safe building to relocate them to,” Mamabolo said at a media briefing at the scene on Wednesday afternoon.
Officials would investigate the cause of the blaze, with some people suspecting that an electrical fault could be to blame.
“At this point, we are not aware of what the causes of the fire are. The City of Johannesburg, working together with us, will conduct an investigation and I would like to appeal to everybody to not speculate,” Mamabolo said.
On Wednesday night at media brief Premier David Makhura said on behalf of the provincial Government and its people, would like to send message of condolences to affected families and also wished those at hospital a speedy recovery.
On the safety of buildings, Makhura said they do conduct inspection on buildings annually and get reports on those that may need refurbishment, just his Premier Offices building.
“I’ve been homeless (not working from office) because of the refurbishment taking place. This is a serious matter that unfortunately claimed lives of our hardworking emergency service personnel.”
Accompanied by CoJ executives, MECs, minister Thulas Nxesi (public works) and other officials the Premier, also reiterated they will not be moving out of the City.
The delegation also visited those at hospital to establish their condition.
At the time of publishing it was still uncertain how many other Government buildings were safety and health compliant.
Meanwhile, the Democratic Nursing Organisation of South Africa (Denosa) in Gauteng threw a conspiracy theory into the midst by saying that it was peculiar that the fire broke out on the floor that dealt with corruption investigations, especially alleged corruption at Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital.
“While the investigation will have to be undertaken on the cause of the fire, however, Denosa finds it quite interesting that the fire broke out on the 23rd floor where the legal department is,” it said in a statement.
“Our finding it interesting is that the legal department is busy conducting an investigation on corruption within the department, where culprits who have been draining the coffers of the department could be pinpointed. We hope there is no foul play.”
The nursing organisation further said the provincial health and infrastructure departments must take the blame for the deaths because organised labour had been warning the employer on the state of the building for years, but their pleas fell on deaf ears.