Johannesburg - The Cape York building, the scene of a deadly fire that killed seven people in Johannesburg CBD, remained under investigation on Thursday and inaccessible to its hapless inhabitants.
The hijacked building on Jeppe and Nugget streets in central Johannesburg caught alight Wednesday morning, killing seven people while 50 others were rescued from the rooftop. The building has no electricity, water or any form of sanitation.
One of the deceased was a Mozambican, only known as Mikita, who died after jumping from the sixth floor of the burning high rise building .
On Friday morning, law-enforcement officers from the South African Police Services (SAPS) and the Johannesburg Metro Police Department (JMPD) were busy conducting stop-and-search operations on Jeppe street adjacent to Cape York while the building was cordoned off.
A JMPD officer said: "We spent the night here to ensure no one goes back inside the building. This building is not safe for occupation anymore."
Many residents of Cape York spent the night on the pavements. They said they did not have anywhere else to go.
"Where do they want us to go if they do not allocate us accommodation? We just want to go back to our place and be left in peace," said Sfiso Nyawo, who has lived at Cape York for just over a year.
Cape York, also dubbed “Mnyamandawo”, also harbours criminals who are involved in high-levels of crime and muggings in downtown Johannesburg.
Johannesburg mayor, Herman Mashaba, said on Thursday that the city of was facing a housing backlog of about 300 000 units. The city had an average delivery of only 3 500 housing units per year.
Mashaba said slumlords were making matters worse by using poor and vulnerable residents’ desperation to their advantage by extorting huge sums of money from those who turn to them for shelter, even under the most horrible of living conditions.
"The building has been declared a crime scene for the duration of this investigation; we have agreed with the building’s owner that it will be sealed once the investigation is complete‚" Mashaba said.
“Moving forward, I remain committed to working with Emergency Medical Services in our efforts to get all hijacked buildings in the City declared unsafe and unsanitary; raids of these hijacked buildings will also be increased.”
Police Minister Fikile Mbalula called for the Cape York building to be demolished after a fatal fire on Thursday.