South Africa: Nehawu-Affiliated Workers Call for Release of Forensic Report On Bank of Lisbon Fire

5 September 2019

Gauteng Department of Health workers affiliated to the National Education, Health and Allied Workers' Union (Nehawu) have expressed concern that after a year, nobody has been held responsible for the fatal Bank of Lisbon fire.

The group of about 80 arrived singing and dancing at the building on Thursday as commemoration proceedings came to an end.

The workers, along with their emergency medical services colleagues, had gathered outside the building to commemorate the three firefighters who died trying to extinguish the blaze on September 5, 2018.

The workers, who arrived shortly after the programme ended, stormed in singing struggle songs, charging the commemoration was nothing more than a "public relations stunt".

They said head of department (HOD) Professor Mkhululi Mac Lukhele should take the blame and be held accountable for the fire.

Nehawu branch secretary Donald Phasha added that if Lukhele takes the blame, he should be disciplined, saying after that there should be clear consequence management.

Phasha said the lives lost on that day could have been saved if the department had listened to organised labour's cries about the state of the building.

He added while the building would be demolished soon, a forensic report had not yet been made public about what really transpired that day.

"All we want is to know what caused the fire and who killed the three innocent firefighters who tried to save our lives. We will take it from there comrades."

Phasha said there was no way they were going to find closure if they did not know what caused the fire.

"We are not willing to work or co-operate with the department's management until it gives us a forensic report, that's all we want," Phasha said.

The workers then chanted: "Away with the HOD, away."

Gauteng Health MEC Bandile Masuku said the police have not yet released the forensic report into the fire, adding the report on the safety of buildings was complete after an audit of facilities in 2018.

"That is why in the budget vote, which was released in July, we made a commitment to make sure that all our facilities are OHS [occupational health and safety] compliant. This process will start around October. We are hoping that by the end of the financial year all facilities will be OHS compliant," he added.

The workers also claimed the families of the fallen firefighters were not getting any support from the department. Masuku, however, said the issue of support for them was something the department could only discuss with the families.

"Remember, those who died were employed by the City of Johannesburg and it is the City, essentially, that has to deal with beneficiaries," he added.

Source: News24

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