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President Ramaphosa Calls Johannesburg CBD Fire "Wake-Up Call" as Death Toll Rises to 73

Published September 21, 2023
9 months ago

The devastating fire that tore through a hijacked building in Johannesburg’s Central Business District (CBD), resulting in the deaths of an estimated 73 people, including several minors, has been deemed a "wake-up call" for the government, according to President Cyril Ramaphosa.

Ramaphosa postponed an address to the nation, originally intended to discuss the outcomes of the 15th BRICS Summit and the docking of the notorious Lady R vessel, in order to tour the ruins, be debriefed by City of Joburg officials, and assess the tragic situation first-hand.

It has been revealed that over 140 foreign nationals were arrested in 2019 for illegally collecting rent from residents in the building. It was initially rented by the Gauteng Department of Social Development to shelter abused women and children. Several residents, including one woman who leaped from the second floor to escape the inferno, are largely foreign nationals living in the city unlawfully.

Such CBD fires are allegedly common in buildings commandeered by criminal syndicates, according to Angela Rivers of the Joburg Property Owners and Managers Association. The fire's perpetrator remains unknown, but as rescue operations continue, the city is left in mourning and contemplation of the red tape stifling its ability to address a proliferating housing crisis effectively.

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