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Joburg CBD blast: ‘Terror cannot be ruled out’ - geologist

An explosion ripped through Lilian Ngoyi, Johannesburg last week, killing one person and injuring dozens. Picture: Timothy Bernard/African News Agency (ANA)

An explosion ripped through Lilian Ngoyi, Johannesburg last week, killing one person and injuring dozens. Picture: Timothy Bernard/African News Agency (ANA)

Published Jul 24, 2023


Johannesburg - There is a possibility of more collapses in the City of Joburg according to acclaimed geologist Chris le Roux.

This follows an underground blast and collapse in Lilian Ngoyi Street on Wednesday night.

There are many theories as to what caused the collapse, but Le Roux indicated in an exclusive interview with The Star, that he would not rule out terrorist strikes that might lead to political unrest.

Le Roux, who has over 20 years experience in Geology and Metallurgical exploration, said it may be possible that a gas explosion caused the collapse, but it was strange that the collapse had no remnants of fire, which would naturally follow a gas leak if an explosion were to happen.

Le Roux said the recent history of events in South Africa points to a “strange hand”.

“For a gas leak to cause a collapse of this magnitude, there would have to be a large explosion underground.

“And if that were the case, the explosion would follow various points in the gas line.

“I understand that the gas companies are distancing themselves from the explosion without a forensic investigation. An explosion like this would not be caused by the compression of a single gas pipe.

“Forensic analysis would have to prove where the pipe stems from and where it is going. Certainly, if the pipe is still there, the danger is still imminent. In my mind, the gas companies are misleading the public in order to escape accountability, or this is a plain terror attack,” Le Roux said.

Over the weekend, Gauteng police commissioner Elias Mawela confirmed that the police were investigating reports that a child was also missing from the rubble that has claimed the life of one person following the “explosion”.

Mawela said no parent has come to the police to report a missing child, but the police will investigate the information. It was reported on Thursday that one person died and that some vehicles, including cars and minibus taxis, were heavily impacted by the blast on Wednesday afternoon. Twelve people are still in the hospital, while at least 48 were treated for minor injuries.

Initially, Egoli Gas, the company responsible for running the gas pipeline, said a small leak in the pipeline had been detected, which might be the cause of the explosion.

Earlier in the day, Lesufi said Egoli Gas was the “centre of focus” in the probe into the cause of the blast. But the oil and gas company said that it was “unlikely that the explosion was caused by a gas pipeline or leak”.

Following the explosion, another blast was reported at a disused mine in Bramfischerville, Soweto, and yesterday morning, another explosion occurred at a factory in Kempton Park.

One man died in the Bramfischerville explosion on Thursday. Johannesburg EMS said the man may have been involved in illegal mining.

Ekurhuleni EMS spokesperson William Ntladi said the explosion at the cylinder company in Chloorkop, Kempton Park, was unrelated to the Joburg CBD and Soweto blasts.

One person suffered minor injuries

to the left leg in the Chloorkop explosion and was treated by emergency services.

Le Roux said that although the truth may be easily told, the matter would be resolved without accountability.

“The truth is hidden deep underground. Properties around the CBD are found to be affected. Property prices and solid safety infrastructure must be considered. The easiest thing is to blame zama zamas and the gas explosion.

“We need a forensic investigation, and I will not rule this out as an attack. The question is who stands to benefit the most from this collapse and why,” Le Roux said.

The Star