At least seven people died and more than 50 injured after a fire in a building in the Johannesburg CBD on Wednesday. PHOTO: Siphelele Dludla/ANA

Johannesburg - Police Minister Fikile Mbalula has called for the Cape York building in downtown Johannesburg to be demolished after a fatal fire in the hijacked and rundown building that resulted in multiple casualties. 

This comes after seven people died and 50 others were rescued from the rooftop when the City York building on Jeppe and Nugget streets in central Johannesburg, caught alight Wednesday morning.

One person died after jumping out of the burning high rise building, while officials said the rest burnt to death. Residents said they suspected a faulty generator that was leaking petrol might have been the cause of the fire. 

The building has no electricity or water availability and any form of sanitation. 

Mbalula, who is attending an Interpol Conference in Singapore, said in a statement that he learned of the recent fire at the Johannesburg CBD that cost the lives of seven people as confirmed by the city emergency services. 

Mbalula recently visited the Cape York building also dubbed “Mnyamandawo” by its residents. In his walk inside the building, Mbalula expressed that it was not inhabitable. 

“There are many buildings in the Johannesburg CBD that are not safe for people to live in. The Cape York building also called “myamandawo “ must be demolished. It is hazard to not only those who live in it but also Johannesburg residents," Mbalula said in a statement.

"Criminals covert these old unsafe buildings into crime heavens to sell drugs, rape and kill conducting all sorts of illegal activities. At my visit at the Johannesburg Central Police Station I emphasised the need for the South African Police Service (SAPS) working with other law enforcement agencies to work harder in cleaning Johannesburg,” 

Mbalula said he planned to work with the City of Johannesburg in making the Johannesburg CBD safe. 

He said he plans to meet with the Johannesburg mayor, Herman Mashaba, following his visit to act on plans to demolish this building. 

“At my visit to the said building I met with its residents who come from different parts of the country and also our neighbouring countries. Legal and illegal immigrants who come to Johannesburg looking for opportunities make these buildings their homes out of desperation," Mbalula said.

"This is why we need to work with the city and other relevant departments in addressing this issue. I send my sincere condolences to the families and friends of those who lost their lives in the fire. We owe it to them and those who call Johannesburg home and a place of work to get rid of crime in the streets of the city."

 African News Agency