Marshalltown Fire: A Call To Action Against Criminality And For Housing Rights

GOOD Statement by Matthew Cook,
GOOD Gauteng Political Manager

15 September 2023

The GOOD Party notes with concern this morning’s building fire which broke out in the Johannesburg CBD.

Johannesburg Emergency Management Services confirmed that firefighters responded to a fire at a three-story building in Marshalltown.

The fire was contained to the basement and one person was treated for smoke inhalation.

Last month, the five-story Usindiso Building caught alight in the same area – leading to the tragic deaths of 77 people.

The Usindiso building was owned by the City of Johannesburg but was “hijacked” after being rented to an NGO.

Whilst details on this latest fire remain murky, two things should be clear; the City of Johannesburg must do more to combat the rising tide of “hijacked” buildings and more must be done to ensure affordable housing for the residents of Johannesburg.

The right to adequate housing is recognised in the Constitution but local governments across the country are failing to deliver on this basic human right.

Today a tragedy was prevented thanks to the swift response of the EMS but the housing crisis in the Johannesburg CBD is a tinderbox waiting to ignite.

As GOOD we acknowledge the establishment of the Commission of Inquiry into the Marshalltown fire chaired by Justice Sisi Virginia Khampepe.

But we hope this is not another talk-shop that wastes taxpayers’ money without seeing any true justice, recourse or change.

Abandoned buildings are exploited by criminals to take advantage of the most desperate in society.

Today’s blaze should be a call to action, much like the one last month.

We must transcend political lines to address this issue on two fronts.

Criminals must know that their actions bear swift and harsh consequences. They must be confronted without impunity.

At the same time, simply evicting vulnerable individuals will not solve the “hijacked” building crisis.

The City of Joburg needs to take responsibility for its failures and reclaim the hijacked buildings across the city.

Media Enquiries:
Matthew Cook, GOOD Gauteng Political Manager
Cell: 074 359 8237

Samantha Jackson, GOOD Acting Media Manager
Cell: 083 550 9875