Babies sleep outside after massive blaze at Joburg building

06 July 2017 - 12:59 By Naledi Shange
The Cape York building after the fire.
The Cape York building after the fire.
Image: City of Joburg EMS‏ via Twitter

Babies‚ some as young as seven months old‚ were among the scores of people who were forced to sleep on the pavement last night after the dilapidated Johannesburg building they call home went up in flames.

On Thursday morning‚ the group of people lay their mattresses against the walls of a primary school across the road from the City York building. They placed some of their belongings next to them.

"We actually did get a bit of sleep although it was so cold‚" said MaButhelezi‚ who was one of the committee members of the rundown building.

"We had police around so it was not unsafe‚" she added.

"Yesterday officials came and gave blankets to some people but there wasn't enough for everyone‚" she said.

The crowd was given cups of soup and two slices of bread for dinner.

While some had already woken up and left the area‚ others waited to see if any breakfast would be provided.

"It's so hard‚ my sister. They threw water on us‚ telling us to move from here‚" said one foreign national‚ referring to business owners who had wanted them to move before they opened their shops for the day.

Meanwhile some hawkers had already laid out their lollipops‚ chips‚ sweets and gum on their cardboard stands on the pavement amid the stranded crowd.

While some of the displaced crowds had vowed to return to the building after the police and forensic investigators had left the building on Wednesday‚ this did not happen.

"We are told they still want to thoroughly check through the building and see if there are no more bodies inside‚" said MaButhelezi.

Officials had on Wednesday placed the death toll at seven.

One person died after jumping out of a window on the third floor of the burning building.

Six others died inside - some from smoke inhalation and others from the flames.

Some residents said not everyone had been accounted for.

It was possible‚ however‚ that these people had decided to seek shelter elsewhere after hearing that the building had been shut down because of the fire.

"We hear we may be allowed back into the building after three days but we don't have anywhere to go until then‚" another woman told TimesLIVE.