Joburg CBD fire: Commission of inquiry to begin on October 26

The commission will be chaired by Justice Sisi Khampepe. Picture: Itumeleng English/African News Agency (ANA)

The commission will be chaired by Justice Sisi Khampepe. Picture: Itumeleng English/African News Agency (ANA)

Published Oct 17, 2023


After being delayed for over three weeks, the proceedings of the Commission of Inquiry into the Marshalltown fire are set to commence next week.

The hearings into the circumstances surrounding the deaths of at least 77 people and a dozen more injured at the Usindiso building in Marshalltown, Johannesburg CBD, will begin on October 26.

The deadly Marshalltown fire occurred in the early hours of August 31. The fire ripped through a city-owned building that had been hijacked by illegal landlords who were renting out the property to over 200 disadvantaged families who needed accommodation.

The announcement was made by the inquiry chaired by Justice Sisi Khampepe on Tuesday during a media briefing in Johannesburg on its activities since their appointment on September 4.

Gauteng Premier Panyaza Lesufi, appointed a two-phase ‘politically-free’ commission of inquiry into the fire on September 13.

Addressing the media, Khampepe expressed confidence in their work and what the outcomes would look like.

She said their groundwork started on October 2, stating that three witnesses had already testified about the Joburg fire and incident regarding hijackers.

To speed up the process, Khampepe urged the public, who might have information or evidence concerning the fire, to contact the commission.

"Any person who has information or evidence relating to the circumstances falling within the terms of reference of the commission but who wishes his or her identity to be kept confidential may also contact the commission.

"In appropriate cases and with due regard to the law and the rights of implicated persons, the commission will take such steps as may be taken in law to keep his or her identity confidential," she said.

When asked about the outcomes and how the public will react to the findings, the spokesperson for the inquiry, Thulani Makhubela, said that they could speculate on what will happen thereafter, but their job was to come up with a conclusion that is grounded in the evidence.

"If the evidence that we find or come up with leads us to a particular conclusion, we cannot hide it with fear that people might rebel against it,” he said.

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