There were at least 180 shacks inside the five-storey Usindiso Building in Marshalltown, Johannesburg CBD.
This is what one of the witnesses who took the stand told chairperson of the commission of inquiry into the Marshalltown fire on Tuesday.
The witness identified as Mr Mboza further revealed that it took less than three days to erect that many shacks.
On Wednesday, other witnesses echoed Mboza’s sentiments saying there were at least 20 shacks on each of the floors of the building.
The building, which resembled a shantytown, is also said to have had structures made of cardboard which contributed to the rapid spread of the fire, resulting in the death of 76 people while several others escaped through balconies and windows.
Busisiwe Mhlebi also told chairperson of the commission, Justice Sisi Khampepe, that she was preparing to feed her baby on the night of the fire.
“I was holding my baby preparing milk for the baby when I heard screams of the people from the opposite flat screaming ‘fire fire, the building is on fire’. I knew that I had only one option to jump from the window of the building. It was dark and I then asked the father of my child to jump first and we jumped from the 4th floor,“ a sobbing Mhlebi told the commission.
Mhlebi said her older daughter after agreeing to jump onto her back failed to stick to the agreed plan that she would jump after her and try to land on her back and decided to turn back and use the door.
“We had agreed that I was going to jump first and she would jump after me and use the same window I used so that she is able to land on my back. I think she became scared and decided to use the door instead. I was already mid-air when I realised that and there was nothing I could do at the time,” she said.
Mhlebi, who spent two days in hospital, told the commission that she woke up to find out that her teenage daughter, Melita, had died in the raging fire.
“In hindsight, I think my daughter became scared even though she saw that her little brother had landed successfully on the ground. It was terrifying seeing her run away and trying to use the door to escape the fire. I was already on the ground when I saw her run. Two days later after waking up in hospital, I was told my daughter had died,” she said.
The commission is under way in Johannesburg, where more witnesses are set to testify on Thursday.