Gauteng transformed into tears as tragic events hit non-stop

Gauteng has been hit by tragic events one after another since December 2022. 

On Christmas Eve 2022, a gas tanker exploded in Boksburg leaving 40 people dead and hundreds in hospital. Of the people who died, 12 were healthcare workers stationed at the Tambo Memorial Hospital.

The truck, which was en route to Botswana, got stuck under a bridge before it exploded near the hospital. 

In January, a cholera outbreak claimed more than 40 lives, with Gauteng being the epicentre of the outbreak. Hammanskraal residents were hit the hardest.

The outbreak resulted in school children bunking classes as they did not have clean running water. Parents did not take the news lightly, fearing that their children will fall behind in their studies.

In June, Boksburg residents faced yet another tragic incident after an earthquake hit the area. Fortunately, no fatalities were recorded but the 5.0-magnitude quake destroyed infrastructure.

It was believed at the time that it was the strongest tremor in the area since March 2019. In 2017 a 5.2-magnitude quake hit near Stilfontein in North West.

It was not even a month later after a nitrate gas inhalation caused the deaths of more than 20 people in an informal settlement called Angelo also in Boksburg.

A day later, Sunday World visited the scene and spoke to unsung heroes Samuel Malaza and Tshepi Manaka, who helped close the tankers.

Describing the crime scene, Manaka said they had to cover their faces with clothes in an attempt to avoid inhaling the gas.

“When we arrived, we bumped onto four bodies laying on the ground. They all had foam coming out of their mouths,” said Manaka.

“We proceeded to a family of five and all of them were dead too.”

Malaza said when the incident was reported to him, he asked Manaka to join him on his way to the scene because he knew how brave he is, and that he would help him save other people.

“He didn’t ask questions, we both got wet towels and left. We couldn’t wait for the police or health practitioners because we were told that people were dying. Our main focus was to save the remaining people,” said Malaza.  

As if that was not enough for residents of Gauteng, an underground gas explosion hit central Johannesburg in July killing one person and injuring 40 other people.

More than 30 vehicles including minibus taxis were also damaged.

The eGoli Gas later confirmed that a leak had been detected on a servitude pipeline at the corner of Bree and Eloff streets.

The natural gas reticulator services over 7 500 domestic, commercial and industrial businesses across the city.

It said a crack in the pipe was caused by the collapse of the road. 

On Thursday, a dilapidated and hijacked building in Marshalltown caught fire and swallowed more than 70 people who were sleeping inside. More than 50 others were admitted to the hospitals across the city.

Ten bodies were burnt beyond recognition and their genders could not be determined. Of the deceased, 13 were children, 24 females and 40 males. 

It is alleged that the fire started on the ground floor before spreading to other floors of the five-storey building on the corner of Alberts and Delvers streets.

When Sunday World visited the scene, the survivors who lost their loved ones were hopelessly sitting on the pavement as they waited for government officials to help them find alternative accommodation.

One of the survivors said she had to jump from her window in a bid to escape the raging fire.

“It was so dark in the house and passage, so I had to jump out of the window. It was either I jump or I die in the fire,” she said.

“Luckily, I stay on the first floor and I wasn’t badly injured.”

She said she lost all her belongings which she left inside the flat when escaping.

“The only thing I have are the clothes that I am wearing. I left my cellphone inside and I don’t know how I will contact my family back home in the Eastern Cape.”

She added that she still does not know whether her neighbours are dead or alive.

MEC of human settlements Lebogang Maile, who visited the scene, said the most important thing was to convey condolences to the families who lost their loved ones.

“As some people were trying to escape, they ended up dying in other people’s houses. I have never witnessed such a tragic thing in my life,” Maile said.

“Seeing a person burnt beyond recognition like that was difficult to take in.

“This incident demonstrates a chronic problem of housing in our province. At least 1.2-million people need housing in Gauteng.

“The city knows of over 20 buildings that need to be developed and house people. As the provincial government, we will be working with the City of Joburg to help the victims.

“We have identified the buildings that the surviving victims will be allocated to.”

Police have taken over the case and are still investigating the cause of the blaze.


Follow @SundayWorldZA on Twitter and @sundayworldza on Instagram, or like our Facebook Page, Sunday World, by clicking here for the latest breaking news in South Africa. 



Latest News