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Only 12 out of 74 Victims Identifiable in Devastating Johannesburg CBD Fire

Published September 21, 2023
9 months ago

A devastating fire that scorched a building situated in Johannesburg Central Business District (CBD) has left at least 74 fatalities, with only 12 bodies identifiable according to Pathology expert, Thembalethu Mpahlaza.

Speaking to the media on Friday, Mr Mpahlaza confirmed that of the bodies recovered, the vast majority were burned beyond recognition, requiring DNA samples from families to aid identification. This announcement has raised alarm and devastated the community, which is now in deep mourning.

The pathology team is still in the process of determining if the cause of death for all victims was the fire, in light of allegations that 'zama zamas' (illegal miners) had occupied the building. The term 'zama zamas' is slang used in South Africa for illegal miners who often live and die in dangerous and inhumane conditions.

In a bid to ensure no more fatalities are discovered, final sweeps of the building by firefighters are scheduled, in which each floor will be meticulously checked. As of now, aside from the fatalities, 60 people are reported to be injured, including 13 children.

Social Development Minister Lindiwe Zulu called for a coordinated effort to ensure such tragedies do not reoccur, urging for the law to take its course. In response to allegations pointing to NGOs keeping women and children in unsafe situations, Zulu assured that necessary standards and norms are enforced for their operation and those found not upholding these will be deregistered.

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