DA Gauteng Shadow Health MEC Jack Bloom MPL has revealed that the investigation reports into the Bank of Lisbon fire show it could have been prevented if provincial government departments had adhered to safety legislation to ensure effective fire prevention.
DA SHADOW MEC POSES QUESTIONS ABOUT BANK OF LISBON FIRE
Gauteng Premier Panyaza Lesufi made the reports available this week following questions reportedly asked by Bloom about why they were not made public more than five years after the fire destroyed the BOL building on 5 September 2018, costing the lives of three firefighters.
“The reports include findings from an investigation by the Department of Employment and Labour, a forensic report by TFS Africa Forensics, a report by City of Johannesburg Emergency Services, and a legal opinion by Harris Nupen Molebatsi Attorneys (HNM).”
There were two tenants in the building – the Gauteng Department of Health, and the Gauteng Department of Human Settlements, Cooperative Governance, and Traditional Affairs.
They are both criticised for contravening the Occupational Health and Safety Act, in that they did not conduct the risk assessment that “would have rated the fire risk as life-threatening and recommended remedies for the Bank of Lisbon building for the safety of their employees.”
HOW THE TRAGIC INFERNO STARTED
Bloom said it was found that the fire started in the office of Advocate Mpelegeng Lebeloane, Chief Director of Legal Services for Gauteng Health, possibly from a heater that was near combustible materials. According to the fire department, the fire could have been contained if an automatic fire suppression system was installed. Another problem was water hoses that did not work.
“HNM Attorneys identify various Acts of Misconduct that could lead to disciplinary proceeding against certain individuals. They say there may be a prima facie negligence case against Ms Lebeloane for failing to exercise the necessary degree of care by leaving a bar heater on in her office close to flammable material which ignited and caused the fire. There are, however, conflicting accounts about another source of the fire in her office,” claimed Bloom.
“The glaring gap is the absence of a report by the SA Police Services who have still not completed their investigation after all this time.”
DA CALLS FOR DISCIPLINARY ACTION TO BE TAKEN AGAINST BANK OF LISBON NEGLIGENT STAFF
Despite investigation reports that were completed long ago, the DA Gauteng Shadow Health MEC says the provincial government has made no effort to discipline negligent staff.
“The DA calls for disciplinary action in this matter, including those who failed to adhere to occupational safety legislation that could have prevented this devastating fire.
“We will also pressure the police to conclude their investigation and lay criminal charges where indicated. It is disgraceful this has taken so long as there needs to be accountability and justice for the families who grieve for the three firefighters who died,” he concluded.
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