President Higgins Sends Sympathies to SA After Deadly Joburg Fire
News02 September 2023
President Michael D Higgins writes to President Ramaphosa extending his sympathies following the deadly fire which claimed over 70 lives in the Johannesburg CBD.
President Michael D Higgins has personally written to South Africa's President Cyril Ramaphosa to offer his sympathies following the devastating fire in Marshalltown, Johannesburg which claimed the lives of over 70 people.
Ireland's President said he was he was particularly touched by the nature of the tragedy which brough death and misery to people were already vulnerable. Most of the bodies were burned beyond recognition and investigators said they would have to rely on DNA samples from relatives to identify them, Reuters reported.
"I was shocked and saddened to learn of the extent of the loss of life and injury," wrote President Higgins in his letter to Ramaphosa, adding that similar tragedies in Europe and Asia has highlighted the need for urgent interventions to tackle what he called the "continuing scourge of inequality and exclusion."
President Cyril Ramaphosa said the fire was a “great tragedy” and a wake-up call for South Africa to tackle its inner-city housing crisis. Household fires are common in Johannesburg, especially in the poorer, informal areas, but this latest incident in the heart of Johannesburg, has highlighted a growing housing crisis in one of the most unequal cities in the world, Reuters reported. Many of the victims were immigrants and foreign workers, with Malawi’s foreign ministry saying more than 20 of its citizens died in the blaze.
President Higgins said "Ireland stands with South Africa in our shared commitment to addressing these challenges together."