Seasoned former judge Sisi Khampepe heads inquiry into blaze

Former Constitutional Court judge Sisi Khampepe will lead a commission of the inquiry into the Marshalltown blaze that killed more than 70 people on Thursday last week. 

Joining Khampepe on the commission is advocate Thulani Makhubela and Vuyelwa Mathilda Mabena, according to Gauteng premier Panyaza Lesufi.

“The commission will investigate the prevalence of hijacked buildings in Johannesburg, what caused the deadly blaze in Marshalltown, and who must shoulder total responsibility for this tragedy,” said Lesufi.

“In Johannesburg, the issue of stolen buildings is becoming a crisis, necessitating drastic action. A thorough intervention is required to ensure that disasters like the Marshalltown fire, one of the deadliest in recent memory, never happen again.”

He said the probe will not interfere with an investigation by the police, and called on affected parties to make submissions to the commission.

“The Gauteng government seeks a comprehensive overhaul of underlying issues that put the lives of the province’s residents in danger. The commission is the initial step in achieving this objective.”

The occupants of the gutted five-storey building on the corner of Alberts and Delvers streets have since been relocated to community halls across Johannesburg.

Family members of the people who were inside the building when it caught fire in the early hours of Thursday morning were, by Monday, still camping outside the damaged building hoping for a miracle as they search for missing loved ones.

On Monday, Sunday World revisited the scene and spoke to devastated family members of 25-year-old Esnart Lux from Malawi. They were still in shock of what had happened.

According to John Kachepa, who spoke on behalf of the family, Lux is the youngest in the family and lived in the gutted building.

“At the moment, we do not know whether she is dead of alive,” said Kachepa.

“We have visited the hospitals and mortuaries, however, we could not find her. We hope that we find her alive but if she isn’t, that is still okay.

“Our main focus as the family is finding her in order to bury her in a dignified manner if she is no longer alive.”


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