Public Protector asked to probe fatal Bank of Lisbon building blaze

2019-02-21 17:29

Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane has been asked to investigate the Bank of Lisbon Building blaze in Johannesburg last year in which three firefighters died and two were seriously injured, Public Protector spokesperson Oupa Segalwe said.

"The Public Protector has been asked to investigate allegations that the Gauteng Department of Health failed to take action regarding reported unsafe working conditions in the Bank of Lisbon Building long before it was gutted by fire last September," he told News24 on Thursday afternoon.

The investigation was triggered by an employee [who wishes to remain anonymous] in one of the departments which was housed in the Johannesburg building.

READ: Fatal Joburg fire: Building was only 21% compliant, says MEC Mamabolo

Segalwe said the complaint was based on alleged unheeded warnings about the building's safety before the fire. It was submitted anonymously for fear of a backlash.

"She (the Public Protector) has been asked to investigate allegations that employees who complained about the matter were being victimised [and] that the department is incurring irregular expenditure because 700 employees have been getting paid in full for sitting at home since the disaster, while the department delays [providing] proper working space," he said.

The assessment on this anonymous complaint has since been completed and the case file is en route to the Public Protector's Johannesburg office for investigation, Segalwe said.

ALSO READ: These are the 3 firefighters who died in Joburg blaze

The non-compliant building was thrust into the spotlight after firefighters Simphiwe Moropane, Mduduzi Ndlovu and Khathutshelo Muedi died while trying to put the fire out after it started on the 23rd floor of the building.

Livhuwani Maumela and Isaac Moleko Bereng were injured and 13 employees were treated for smoke inhalation.

The fire started on September 5 in the building in which the departments of health, human settlements, and cooperative government and traditional affairs were housed.

Gauteng MEC for infrastructure development Jacob Mamabolo stated after the fire that the building was only 21% compliant with safety and health regulations.

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Read more on:    public protector  |  busisiwe mkhwebane  |  johannesburg  |  accidents
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