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Urgent Call for Government Accountability

In the heart of Johannesburg, a chilling and heartbreaking event unfolded that claimed the lives of 77 people, leaving families devastated. The devastating fire that engulfed the Marshalltown building on that fateful day was not only a tragedy but also a glaring symbol of negligence and the dire consequences of governmental inaction.

The Marshalltown building, owned by the City of Johannesburg, was leased to an NGO, dedicated to sheltering displaced women. However, due to safety concerns, the NGO was forced to shut down its operations. It was not long before the building was hijacked, and despite this unlawful occupation, it remained the property of the municipality.

While the blame game continues among officials, one cannot ignore the glaring lapses in governance and oversight. Rent continued to be collected from the building, despite it being unlawfully occupied. Inexplicably, the South African Police Service (SAPS) and the Department of Home Affairs conducted a raid and arrested foreign officials in the building, clearly indicating its hijacked status. Yet, the question looms large: Why wasn't the building promptly closed down at that time when it was already established that it had been hijacked?

The anger and frustration of the nation are palpable. It is unconscionable that such a dire situation was allowed to persist without intervention. The government must take accountability for this appalling lapse in oversight and administration. The lives of 77 people have been needlessly lost.

We demand answers. Who hijacked Usindiso? How could a building owned by the City of Johannesburg fall into the hands of criminals, with rent being collected while officials turned a blind eye? Why were the warnings and evidence of criminal activity ignored for so long? The blame game must stop, and those responsible for this gross negligence must be held accountable.

It is time for the government to act decisively, not only in investigating the circumstances surrounding this tragic incident but also in rectifying the systemic failures that allowed it to happen. The lives lost were not just numbers; they were mothers, fathers, sons, and daughters. They were members of a community who deserved better.

In memory of the 73 lives lost, we call on the government to take swift and meaningful action, to provide answers, and to ensure that such a tragedy never happens again. The people deserve better, and we will not rest until justice is served.

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