President Cyril Ramaphosa has sent his sympathies to the families of those who died following the explosion of gas cylinders on a truck at Boksburg last week.
The incident left at least 18 people dead, several others injured and caused extensive damage to homes and infrastructure – particularly a hospital near where the incident occurred.
“The nation’s hearts go out to everyone affected by this devastating incident. Such events take on greater sadness and tragedy when they occur at this time of year when all of us pray for safety and look forward to the togetherness and comfort of extended time with family and friends.
“In this instance, the loss of life is rendered more intense because some of the victims were hospital patients, hospital staff and children, while firefighters are counted among the injured,” the President said.
The truck driver had attempted to drive through a bridge underpass and got stuck underneath – leading to the explosion.
He has since been arrested and charged with multiple counts of culpable homicide, negligent causing of an explosion resulting in death and malicious damage to property.
“While we await the outcome of investigations into this tragedy, this incident does, like so many others, call on all of us to show due care and to avoid risk when we are out on our roads which we share as a public amenity,” President Ramaphosa said.
Families whose homes were destroyed in the blast are being relocated by the Ekurhuleni Metropolitan Municipality and the damage to the hospital is currently being assessed.
The President expressed his appreciation for both governmental and non-governmental efforts to assist those in need.
“As government, we are taking all necessary actions to bring relief to persons affected by the incident and we draw inspiration in our own efforts from the demonstrations of Ubuntu we are seeing on the part of communities and community-based organisations.
“While these interventions bring us hope and light in our darkest hour, we must always live by the resolve to prevent such catastrophe from taking place in the first place,” the President said.