South Africa: Johannesburg Fire – Zimbabweans Feared Dead, Some Injured, Stranded

A number of Zimbabweans are feared to be among 74 people who have perished in an inferno that ravaged a building in Johannesburg, South Africa early Thursday morning.

Fire ripped through a five-storey building in Johannesburg leaving over 50 people injured.

While investigations are still underway, residents believe the inferno was caused by a candle.

Zimbabwe’s ambassador to South Africa, David Hamadziripi confirmed to that at least five Zimbabweans have been injured with some, whose number could not be established by the time of publishing, dead.

“My consulate team was on the ground yesterday where this tragic incident took place. Informally they were able to establish that there may be some Zimbabweans who perished in this incident but we do not have confirmed figures.

“My consulate team will have a meeting with the police. They will be given whatever information the police might have including also being given access to the hospital where the injured have been taken to,” said Hamadziripi.

The derelict building housed many people which are believed to be more than 100 with some living in the basement.

Zimbabweans who have escaped economic ravages are trekking down South with some living in dire straits including in some abandoned and broken-down buildings.

“Last night we were able to assist seven Zimbabweans who were left stranded. Who did not have any shelter. So we were able to provide accommodation for them,” added Hamadziripi.

The disaster comes a month after four Zimbabweans died in a gas explosion in Boksburg.

Hamadziripi said while the embassy might not be able to cater for the upkeep of some people in South Africa it is open to repatriating victims to Zimbabwe.

“As an embassy we do not have the resources for any sustained long term assistance but immediate assistance in terms of shelter and food.

“As we have done in similar incidents where we have had disasters of a national character and Zimbabwean nationals have been affected we have assisted in repatriation of the deceased. That we will do. Those who may want to be repatriated to go back home who no longer have anything to live on here,” he said.

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