'This building is a dustbin for poor people' – caretaker of hijacked building

2017-07-05 15:33
The Cape York building in the Johannesburg CBD. (Iavan Pijoos, News24)

The Cape York building in the Johannesburg CBD. (Iavan Pijoos, News24)

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Johannesburg – A man who acts as the caretaker for residents living in the hijacked Cape York building in the Johannesburg CBD, believes the building is a dustbin for poor people. 

"They said let's take the poor people and dump them here. Don’t give them any water or sanitation. The people that stay in this building is the poorest of the poor," Prince Mthethwa told News24 on Wednesday morning. 

The 43-year-old was standing outside the building after firefighters were battling to extinguish the blaze. 

AS IT HAPPENED: Joburg building declared a crime scene after deadly blaze kills 7

Earlier, Johannesburg Emergency Management Services spokesperson Nana Radebe said seven people had been confirmed dead.

"One jumped and six other died of smoke inhalation," Radebe said.

Radebe said seven others had been taken to hospital. Two of the seven had burn wounds to their hands and feet.

Over 50 people had been rescued from the building.

Radebe said at the time that they were still searching for any other dead bodies believed to be in the building. 

Mthethwa said he looks after more than a 100 people who live in the building. He has been living in the building for six years. 

"I look after those who are sick and those who live on the streets and take them in. They deserve to be looked after, because they are also human," he said. 

Mthethwa said Minister of Police Fikile Mbalula visited the building about two weeks ago, however, nothing was done to improve conditions. 

"Some of us would also like to live in Sandton and drive fancy cars. Do people think it’s nice for us to live in this building?"

'Unsafe for any human'

He said that some of the people living in the building are matriculants and some even have college diplomas, but are unable to find work. 

Mthethwa said they had voted for Johannesburg Mayor Herman Mashaba and also voted for the previous Mayor Parks Tau. 

"They only come here to be famous in the media that’s all. They said vote for change, but what change is happening here?"

Mashaba and MMC for Public Safety Michael Sun had visited the scene earlier. 

"I am sitting with over 300 000 of people that are looking for accommodation. Some of our people have been on the waiting list for the last 15 to 20 years," Mashaba said. 

Mashaba said they were not going to allow anyone to hijack buildings thinking that they can jump the queue. 

He said that there were currently 85 hijacked buildings in Johannesburg. 

Sun said the building had been declared a crime scene. 

"The building is unsafe for any human to occupy, so we have declared the building as an unsafe building," Sun said.

Sun said they had also located the owner of the building.

"Illegal occupants have occupied the building and I understand from the owner that he is in a court battle," he said. 

Read more on:    johannesburg  |  fires

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