President Cyril Ramaphosa has on Thursday expressed “deep sadness” following the death of at least 17 people at the Angelo informal settlement in Boksburg.
A suspected nitrate oxide leak happened last night at the informal settlement. At least 10 residents have been admitted at Tambo Memorial Hospital.
Presidency spokesperson, Vincent Magwenya said the president wished to extend his heartfelt condolences to the families that have lost loved ones.
“President Ramaphosa has described this as a very sad morning. He further urges investigators to get to the bottom of what may have caused this accident to avoid similar disasters in future,” he said.
Earlier, Gauteng Premier Panyaza Lesufi said several residents from the Angelo informal settlement died while they tried to escape from the fumes of the gas leak.
The death toll, by Thursday morning, had risen to 17 as residents inhaled the poisonous gas which allegedly came from tanks brought in by alleged illegal miners.
Lesufi rushed to the scene on Wednesday night after news of the tragedy emerged, saying later that he might seek psychological help after the devastation he saw.
“The scene was heartbreaking. I regretted why we had to go through that scene. It was heartbreaking. It is something that we need assistance personally,” Lesufi said as he spoke to local and international media gathered at the Angelo informal settlement.
“The bodies were scattered literally everywhere. I want to thank our team because they know exactly where each body was and they know how each body arrived where it was,” he said.
The EFF in Gauteng has criticised what it termed a “lazy response” by the SAPS to the tragedy.
Apparently, the gas leak started on Wednesday and by evening, community members were panicking.
EFF provincial chairperson Nkululeko Dunga has appealed to the national, provincial and local government agencies to channel “all the resources available” to help out the community members at Angelo informal settlement.
“The EFF slams the lazy response by the South African Police Service after being informed of the issue as soon as it occurred,” said Dunga.
“State emergency services should at all times, be the first to respond in such situations. We call on the government to dispatch emergency teams for assistance, as more other people could still be affected by the gas leakages and we also call for the relocation of the residents to a much safer area to mitigate against further damages,” he said.