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73 Perish After Huge Fire Gutted Illegally Occupied Multi-Storey Building In Johannesburg

Africa | South Africa August 31, 2023

At least 73 people have perished after huge fire gutted a 5-storey building that was illegally occupied by some homeless individuals and families, in downtown Johannesburg, South Africa, in the early hours of August 31, 2023. The death toll is likely to rise. That was reported by some South African media.

According to the reports, the multi-storey building is owned by Johannesburg City. The latter is said to have previously leased it to a charitable organization that eventually stopped its operations there hence abandoning the building. After that, criminal property agents/landlords reportedly took over the abandoned building, converted it into numerous sub-standard housing units that had no basic building services, and rented them out to desperate homeless people.

Take over by criminal property agents/landlords or occupation by squatters of abandoned public buildings are common place in Johannesburg. The main factors for that are said to be chronic shortage of affordable housing and high rates of unemployment in the city.

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