Johannesburg Fire Kills Over 70 in South Africa (Children and Migrants)
Kanako Mita and Michiyo Tanabe
Modern Tokyo Times
A brutal fire killed at least 74 people in Johannesburg, South Africa. This includes the deaths of twelve children.
The residents of the destroyed building by fire include migrants from Malawi, Tanzania, and Zimbabwe – and poorer South Africans. Accordingly, families and friends in several countries are in mourning.
The Independent reports, “Some of the people living in a maze of shacks and other makeshift structures inside the building threw themselves out of windows to escape the fire – one of the worst in South Africa’s history. Officials say that 12 children are among the dead.”
The desperation of the situation is summed up by some babies being thrown from the third floor to save them.
President Cyril Ramaphosa said: “Our heart goes out to every person who is affected by this disaster… This incident calls on all of us… to reach out to survivors to help restore their physical and psychological well-being.”
A gate inside the building was closed, according to a city official
Mgcini Tshwaku (a member of the Mayoral Committee for Safety and Security) blamed the high death toll on “a lot of partitions and gates in between.”
He continued: “Many people wanted to get out but they could not… Many burnt bodies were actually found stashed on that gate on the bottom-level floor.”
The BBC reports, “Some South Africans have criticized what they say was the slow response of Johannesburg’s emergency services to the fire in the building, which is located only minutes away from at least two fire stations.”
Recent fires in other neglected buildings in Johannesburg have happened in Yeoville and Hillbrow. The Hillbrow fire killed two children in June.
Lee Jay Walker says: “In recent times, many poorer indigenous South Africans – feeling abandoned by the ruling ANC – are tired of mass immigration. Hence, clashes – and attacks – have happened in recent years between indigenous South Africans and immigrants.”
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