A deadly fire in Johannesburg’s inner city was “a wake-up call” for South Africa, says President Cyril Ramaphosa.
Seventy-four people were killed – including 12 children – after a blaze in a five-storey building, which was being occupied by homeless people.
More than 50 others were injured.
Earlier, the city of Johannesburg confirmed it owned the building, but said cartels had taken it over. Officials say the cause of the deadly fire is unclear.
In a news conference at the site of the fire, Mr Ramaphosa said the incident needed to be investigated and lessons learnt to prevent future tragedies.
“It’s a wake-up call for us to begin to address the situation of housing in the inner city,” the South African leader said.
The building used to be a home for abused women and children, but once the lease expired, it was “hijacked”, President Ramaphosa explained to reporters.
Many properties around the area where the blaze happened have been deemed unfit to live in.
Yet these old blocks, abandoned by their owners or the city authorities, are full of families, often paying rent to criminal gangs who run them.
Some of those who use the buildings include undocumented migrants, mostly from other African countries.
The buildings, which lack running water, toilets or a legal electricity connection, are then said to have been “hijacked”.
South Africa faces a chronic housing shortage, with an estimated 15,000 people estimated to be homeless in Johannesburg.
“We need to get on top of this and find effective ways of dealing with problems of accommodation, of housing, and services in the inner city,” Mr Ramaphosa added.
He also commended emergency services, who arrived at the scene 10 minutes after the fire was reported.
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