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WATCH: Firefighters run Soweto Marathon in 18kg gear to honour fallen colleagues

05 November, 01:23 PM

Three Johannesburg firefighters ran the Old Mutual Soweto Marathon on Sunday in bunker gear, to commemorate their fallen colleagues.

Their colleagues – Simphiwe Moropane, Mduduzi Ndlovu and Khathutshelo Muedi – were killed and many others injured after a fire broke out in the Bank of Lisbon building in the Johannesburg CBD on September 5. 

"We are humbled by the gesture they are showing to the families," Johannesburg Emergency Management Services spokesperson Robert Mulaudzi told News24.

"This will remind them how thankful we are that they borrowed us their sons," he said.

He added that the family members were receiving continuous assistance and counselling from the department.

READ: Joburg Fire: 'Govt killed our brothers' – firefighter

Nkosi Mzolo, Nhlakanipho Khoza and Siphiwe Tshabalala completed the 42km race in six hours and 22 minutes.

"It was tough. It was very difficult, but we managed to encourage them, and we made it to the finish line," Mulaudzi said.

He said the last 12km had taken its toll on the three, but that they were "happy" that they had managed to arrive at the FNB Stadium.

READ MORE: Ramaphosa to take part in Soweto Marathon

All their gear combined weighs up to 18kg, but they swapped their boots for comfortable running shoes to avoid blisters.

Mzolo, 31, said they had to adjust their training schedule in preparation for the race.

"We train every day, but we added more running and extended the distance," he said.

Tshabalala, 24, added that he would put on more clothes to try replicate the uniform. "I've trained with jeans, a lot of track tops and a raincoat, because the uniform is quite heavy." 

Mulaudzi said the initiative was also aimed at highlighting the challenges they face on a day-to-day basis.

"I think we managed to change the perception about the work we do. I think residents appreciate us more now," he said.

"We are grateful for the support from the Soweto residents."

He said hopefully more firefighters will participate in the People’s Race next year but probably not in their uniform.

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