Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula addressing the SANDF's Goodwill Parcel Project gala dinner in Pretoria on Friday. PHOTO: Jonisayi Maromo/ANA

PRETORIA - Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula on Friday saluted her charges, the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) for their intervention in putting out the fire that burnt for more than 24 hours at a government building in the Johannesburg inner city.

"Yesterday, when I was called by the Premier of Gauteng, when the fire was clearly getting out of hand in the [Johannesburg] CBD, I said to the chief of the SANDF what can we do? He said we do not have some of the capacity. He said this is some of the capacity we destroyed," Mapisa-Nqakula addressed SANDF's annual Goodwill Parcel Project (GWPP) gala evening in Pretoria.

"Thank you chief, because this morning when I woke up, the first message I read was from the premier, which said thank you SANDF. We may not have the capacity which they expect us to have but the little we could do, made a difference. Thank you very much."

The SANDF joined firefighters at the Johannesburg building, arriving with resources including fire engines, ambulances, and more firefighters in support of the City of Johannesburg's efforts to combat the fire. 

This came after the 23-storey Bank of Lisbon building, which houses the department of health, human settlements and cooperative governance in Joburg inner city, caught fire on Wednesday morning. The ferocious fire that left three firefighters dead was extinguished on Thursday night. 

The deceased firefighters have been named as Simphiwe Moropane, 28, Mduduzi Ndlovu, 40, and Kathutshelo Muedi, 37. As many as 13 officials from the provincial department of health were hospitalised and treated for smoke inhalation. They have since been discharged. 

The GWPP is utilised by both the SANDF and various private sector donors as a token of appreciation and encouragement to members of the SANDF "making a supreme sacrifice away from home". 

On Friday night, Chief of the SANDF Solly Shoke was hosting various corporate sponsors, afford them the opportunity to pledge their monetary and other support to the GWPP in a bid to raise funds and Christmas parcels for internally and externally deployed soldiers and their families to bring a joyous festive season spirit.

African News Agency (ANA)