Survivors of Marshalltown Fire in Joburg, South Africa Left in Limbo, Hunger and Desperation Despite State’s Unfulfilled Promises

The survivors are in desperate need of grief and trauma management services, identity documents, food, permanent housing solutions and more.

Former residents of 80 Albert Street in Marshalltown, Johannesburg, who were moved into temporary emergency accommodation after a fire destroyed the building, cannot afford to travel to a mortuary to identify the bodies of their loved ones who died in the 31 August fire. Some don’t have money for the funeral costs. They don’t have enough food to eat at the shelter and they’re tired of empty promises.

“It’s money. We don’t have money,” said Vuyiswa Mthembu, one of the former residents.

Seventy-four people died in the blaze, including 12 children. Of these, 30 had been positively identified, leaving 44 still awaiting identification, according to the Gauteng Department of Health.

While many of the dead were immigrants from Malawi, Tanzania and Zimbabwe, South African nationals were also among them. Nevertheless, the City of Johannesburg has pointed fingers at NGOs and foreign nationals in the wake of the fire.

Now, a month later, the cause of the fire is still unknown, and the survivors are in a state of limbo, with promises from the government unfulfilled.

A commission of inquiry, launched by Gauteng Premier Panyaza Lesufi and chaired by retired Constitutional Court Judge Sisi Khampepe, was scheduled to begin its…

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