Firefighter killed in Johannesburg blaze laid to rest

2015-05-23 14:22
Daniel Zwane, one of two firefighters killed in a blaze in Johannesburg, is buried in Madadeni in Newcastle, KwaZulu-Natal. (Supplied)

Daniel Zwane, one of two firefighters killed in a blaze in Johannesburg, is buried in Madadeni in Newcastle, KwaZulu-Natal. (Supplied)

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Newcastle - Daniel Zwane, one of two firefighters killed in a blaze in Johannesburg, was buried in Madadeni in Newcastle, KwaZulu-Natal on Saturday.

The 50-year-old man died from smoke inhalation along with his colleague 34-year-old Michael Letsosa in the early hours of Sunday morning.

Johannesburg management services spokesperson Robert Mulaudzi said Zwane had contributed immensely to the safety of the people of Johannesburg.

"He dedicated his selfless service for 27 years with dedication and commitment, disciplined to the city of Johannesburg," Mulaudzi said in a statement.

A memorial service was held for Zwane and Letsosa on Thursday.

During the memorial services, the scores of firefighters attending the ceremony embarrassed the EMS management and shocked the families of the deceased men when they seemingly placed blame on some of their bosses for the deaths of their colleagues.

Zwane and Letsosa's colleagues took to the podium where they explained how their colleagues died.

The driver of the fire engine, Sello Sello, said there was a lot of recklessness on that day.

He spoke of the guilt and self-blame he felt about having driven his colleagues to their deaths.

"Letsosa called me from inside the scene. It was the first time that I had ever heard anything like that in my life. He said to me 'Sello, I am dying'. It was like a dream when I heard him as I sat in the fire engine. He said 'I can feel my soul leaving me'," Sello said in Sesotho.

Something went wrong

He considered resigning but thought it would not be right to do so without revealing what had happened to his colleagues.

He said he would not point any fingers, but hoped and prayed that the person responsible would eventually come clean.

Another firefighter, Tumi Ramotala said he had initially gone into the burning building with Letsosa. He and a few others investigated the building and came out safely.

"Suddenly, something went wrong. Things went in a way we were not expecting," said Ramotala.

"We went in the first time. We investigated as much as we are meant to do and we came out. They got orders from their superiors to go back inside... That was the last time we saw our brothers alive," Ramotala said.

He explained that one firefighter came out and told them that two firefighters were down.

It took hours before they were found and brought out of the burning building.

At the time, Mulaudzi said the allegations would be investigated.

"There were allegations that the incident commander might have flouted the rules... we are clarified to say that at the moment, [but] we cannot conclude that because... we don't know what happened," he said.

Letsosa was to be buried on Sunday.

Read more on:    johannesburg  |  fires

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