Premier Lesufi establishes a Commission of Inquiry into the deadly Marshalltown fire

Premier Panyaza Lesufi, in accordance with section 127(2)(e) of the Constitution, read with section 2 of the Provincial Commissions Act, 1997 (Act No.1 of 1997), has appointed a Commission of Inquiry into the tragic Marshalltown fire.

This devastating incident resulted in the loss of more than 70 lives and left many injured and homeless. Premier Lesufi made this announcement following his declaration on August 31, 2023, expressing his intent to collaborate with Minister of Justice and Correctional Services, Ronald Lamola, to appoint a retired judge to chair a Commission tasked with investigating this terrible blaze.

Justice Sisi Khampepe, a retired Judge of the Constitutional Court of South Africa and the current Chancellor of the University of Pretoria, will preside over this Commission. Assisting her will be Advocate Thulani Makhubela, an attorney with over 26 years of legal and business expertise, who has successfully represented clients in various courts, including the Labour Court, the CCMA, the High Court, as well as Regional and Magistrate courts. Additionally, he has prior experience representing clients before the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Ms. Vuyelwa Mathilda Mabena, a dedicated community activist, with a substantial background in the public sector, including roles as a councillor in the Ekurhuleni Municipality and an MMC in charge of environmental services, will also support the Commission.

The Commission’s primary objectives will include investigating the prevalence of hijacked buildings in Johannesburg, determining the root causes of the deadly Marshalltown fire, and identifying those responsible for this tragic event, as stated by Premier Lesufi. Comprehensive Terms of Reference and Regulations for the Commission of Inquiry are currently being drafted and will be officially published in due course. The Commission is expected to provide its findings and recommendations to the Premier upon conclusion of its investigations.

It is essential to note that the Commission’s work will not overlap with the ongoing investigations into the fire’s causes conducted by the South African Police Service (SAPS) and other law enforcement organizations. Premier Lesufi emphasized the urgent need for action to address the crisis of stolen buildings in Johannesburg, ensuring that disasters like the Marshalltown fire, one of the deadliest in recent memory, are prevented from occurring in the future.

Premier Lesufi further stated, “The Gauteng Government seeks a comprehensive overhaul of all the underlying issues that endanger the lives of the province’s residents, and the Commission represents the initial step in achieving this objective. We urge all affected communities and organizations to make submissions and collaborate with the Commission in resolving the persistent problem of hijacked buildings.”

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