Fireman cries racism

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brixton fire truck THE STAR File photo: Bongiwe Mchunu

Johannesburg - A Joburg firefighter was stuck in a lift for nearly three hours and his own department failed to respond to calls for help.

The man, who asked not to be named over concerns of victimisation, said the lift he was in at a mall in Stanley Avenue in Milpark got stuck at about 4.50pm on Wednesday.

The man called the Joburg emergency control centre for help and was told that a fire engine would be sent from Brixton station, which is where he is based.

He told them that nobody in the centre seemed to know he was stuck in the lift and was told not to worry as help was on the way.

But nobody arrived.

He called his manager at the Brixton station and asked for help, and was told that a team from the station was on the way.

An hour later, he called again and was told a team had been dispatched, but still nobody came.

At one point he got hold of a colleague at the call centre, who said they were told he had already been rescued. He was eventually rescued at about 7.40pm, nearly three hours later.

At one point, he said, his colleagues were told by a manager that the rescue team did not know where the mall was.

He believes he was discriminated against on the grounds of race, and deliberately abandoned by his white supervisors.

“To me, it’s a lie. It’s just that they didn’t want to help as I’m black. If it was their white brother, they would have called other stations to come and assist,” said the angry firefighter.

He said he had asked his manager why he had been left “to die” in the stuck lift and was told that they could not find him.

“My right to live was violated. My patient’s right to get medical assistance was also violated, as they left without even trying to locate my whereabouts as a patient,” he said.

“I nearly suffocated in there. So if they do it to their own employee and colleague, what about the public in general?”

The City of Joburg did not respond last week to requests for comment on the incident.

The Star

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