The constructing that caught fireplace in downtown Johannesburg on Thursday morning was certainly one of greater than 600 derelict buildings within the metropolis which are being illegally occupied — or “hijacked,” as locals say — in response to Mgcini Tshwaku, the Johannesburg councilman who oversees public security.
About 30 of the buildings are owned by town, whereas the remainder are privately owned, he mentioned in an interview.
This yr, Mr. Tshwaku began a program to examine such buildings and work to get residents out due to the damaging residing situations. Metropolis inspectors had just lately visited the constructing the place Thursday’s fireplace occurred, he mentioned, and located situations just like these of different buildings which are thought of dangerous.
Many lack fireplace escapes, extinguishers and sprinklers, he mentioned, and infrequently don’t have any operating water, electrical energy or working bogs. Residents mild fires for light and heat, and that may simply result in lethal fires, he mentioned.
Preliminary proof means that the fireplace on Thursday began on the bottom flooring, Mr. Tshwaku mentioned. A safety gate trapped many residents who have been unable to flee, he added.
The operation to clear unlawful buildings has inspected 14 of them, Mr. Tshwaku mentioned. One problem, he mentioned, is that town lacks the assets to offer different housing for folks it evicts, as it’s required to do by regulation.
Mr. Tshwaku mentioned town was attempting to talk to tenants of dilapidated buildings individually to find out their wants. When residents can afford a spot on their very own, metropolis officers work to assist them discover someplace to go, he mentioned, and that has helped cut back the quantity of people that have needed to be positioned into shelters or different lodging.