City of Joburg Mayor Herman Mashaba says he is shocked and disappointed in the ANC’s head of elections Fikile Mbalula who called for him to take political responsibility for the deaths of three firefighters who died in a blaze last week
“Mbalula is putting salt into wounded people,” Mashaba told News24 on Thursday.
Mbalula, speaking to residents in Soweto on Thursday, where he and Gauteng ANC’s head of elections Lebogang Maile and economic development MEC were meeting with major retailers and local business owners, blamed Mashaba for the tragedy.
“Those firefighters were ill-equipped, ill-trained and they went inside the building,” said Mbalula in Sesotho.
“Those firefighters were working for Mashaba,” added Mbalula.
He told those in attendance that Mashaba needed to take political responsibility for the Lisbon building which caught fire last week. Three firefighters perished, with one falling to his death from the building.
Mbalula claimed that while he was police minister he had warned Mashaba about the state of buildings in the City of Johannesburg.
“I told him while I was police minister that the CBD buildings are in a terrible condition and should be shut down, but he didn’t listen,” said Mbalula, who complained about the mayor laying blame with the ANC provincial government.
Mashaba who repeatedly said he was shocked by Mbalula’s comments told News24 the firefighters were upset with the provincial government, which is led by the ANC and would not allow any of its representatives to address them at a memorial service held this week in honour of the three fallen heroes.
“The firefighters made it abundantly clear that they were insulted. They were upset following a statement from [Gauteng Premier David] Makhura that they were ill-equipped,” said Mashaba.
“It was a health and safety issue. His comments are a great disappointment,” he continued.