Gauteng Co-Operative Governance and Traditional Affairs and Human Settlements MEC Dikgang Uhuru Moiloa has renewed calls to owners of private buildings to work with authorities to prevent the illegal occupation of buildings.
MEC Moiloa’s call follows the tragic death of three children aged three, five and 10, who passed away when a dilapidated building they were in collapsed on Monday.
Members of Emergency Medical Services and Urban Search and Rescue services were called out to the scene after the collapse of the structure in Doornfontein, Johannesburg.
According the provincial department, the building was illegally occupied by about 100 families at the time.
“It is not only sad and tragic that yet another set of children had to die under such horrific circumstances, as a clear reminder of the social ills of illegal occupation. It was established that the building was illegally occupied and not suitable for human habitation,” said MEC Moiloa.
Following the removal of the children’s bodies, Urban Search and Rescue Services, together with other emergency workers, put measures in place to have all the illegal occupants removed and the rest of the dangerous structure demolished in anticipation of further collapses.
MEC Moiloa has requested the Disaster Management Centre to mobilise the building control authorities to further the investigation into the cause of the collapse.
The MEC also warned strongly against the occupation of abandoned structures and the exploitation by greedy slumlords, who take advantage of vulnerable families.
“Not only is this practice extremely dangerous, but it is also criminal,” said MEC Moiloa.
The MEC has sent his heartfelt condolences to the families and loved ones of three children and arrangements are underway to secure alternative accommodation for the current occupants.
“The entire building remains in an unstable condition and poses several safety risks due to the heavy rains, the illegal water and electrical connections and the overall structural state of the building,” said the MEC.