Johannesburg – The Kaserne building was successfully demolished by the City of Joburg on Saturday, May 14.
The city demolished the structure to make way for a new housing development of mixed housing units such as RDP homes and rental houses. An estimated 1 500 housing units will be erected on the site which will be developed into a township with health facilities and an early childhood development centre.
The demolition of the Kaserne building brings another building that was demolished to mind, the Bank of Lisbon building which was imploded in November 2019.
Almost three years later, where the iconic Bank of Lisbon building once stood is a massive gaping hole in the middle of the Johannesburg CBD. There is no evidence that a 31-storey building, considered one of the inner city landmarks, once stood there.
The huge hole is surrounded by a fence but has somehow become a dumping site. standing in the street one can see the water that has filled the bottom of the pit.
Plastic bags and other rubbish can be seen all over. There are even black and yellow tyres protruding out of the filthy landscape.
Graffiti adorns the walls where the basement parking had previously been.
The building owned by the Gauteng provincial government was demolished in 2019 after being declared uninhabitable by engineers after it was gutted by fire in September 2018.
Gauteng Infrastructure and Property Development MEC Tasneem Motara said in 2019: “The space will be cleared and will be used for the rebuilding of another building for government accommodation, in line with the Kopanong Precinct Project.”
At the time The Bank of Lisbon building housed three Gauteng departments: Co-operative Government and Traditional Affairs, Human Settlements and Health.
Three firefighters perished while battling a fire that started on the 23rd floor and spread through the building. The inferno raged for 3 days before being extinguished.
The police, the City of Joburg, the provincial government and the Labour Department all launched investigations into the tragedy.
In 2021, then mayor of Johannesburg Jolidee Matongo revealed that the city had already shared its report with the fire chief and the affected families, who had asked that the findings be kept confidential.
He added that they had to wait for the other three reports to be finalised before they could be made public.
Attempts at soliciting comment from the provincial government office were unsuccessful at the time of publication.