File image: Joburg Mayor, Herman Mashaba. (IOL).

CAPE TOWN - Speaking on PowerFM this morning, Johannesburg Mayor Herman Mashaba reportedly called for the expropriation of buildings after collapsed buildings claimed the lives of three children, reports The Citizen. 

An abandoned Johannesburg warehouse building which collapsed on Monday caused the death of three children. Mashaba reportedly believes that the hijacking of buildings is a contributing factor to these events. 

The three children who died during the tragic incident were aged three, five and a 10 years-old, and were playing on the pavement outside the building when one of the walls collapsed on them, Independent Media reported. 

The Johannesburg mayor has reportedly called for action to be taken, saying the city will expropriate buildings where the owners are not identified. 

The expropriated buildings will then be offered to the private sector for development. The priority areas that will be considered for development include affordable accommodation and student accommodation. 

Mashaba said he would present the 68 buildings that need approval to be offered to private developers, and currently plans to expropriate a further 146 buildings. 

READ ALSO: PICS: Three children killed after wall collapses in abandoned Joburg building

Mashaba said the collapsed building was occupied by mostly foreign nationals who had built shacks inside the premises. "About 30 families have been safely removed from the building and the Department of Public Safety's Disaster Management team are assisting the displaced", he said. 

The mayor added that far too many residents were living in derelict and unsafe buildings and the slum-like conditions infringed on their right to dignity.

"Tragically, there are hundreds of derelict buildings in the inner city of Johannesburg. Some of these properties have been abandoned and owners cannot be traced. This makes it difficult, if not impossible, for the city to ensure compliance with applicable by-laws, which in turn contributes to the degradation of the urban environment," Mashaba said.

"On 26 February 2018, I wrote to the former minister of public works, Mr Nathi Nhleko, to request that an agreement be concluded with the department of public works, in which the department will name the city as its nominee for the transfer of these abandoned properties in Johannesburg. 

"To date, I have not heard back from the former or current minister, Mr Thulas Nxesi."

Mashaba said that he had sent a follow-up letter to Nxesi on Monday morning before the tragedy, imploring that his department and the city work together in the best interests of residents.

Member of mayoral committee (MMC) for public safety, Michael Sun meanwhile, also said that he was aggrieved by the death of such innocent young lives. 

"This incident is a devastating tragedy. Our Disaster Management team are on site and will be assisting the displaced with food, clothing, blankets and temporary accommodation," Sun said.

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