A 10-STOREY building on the corner of De Villiers and Rissik street in Joburg caught fire yesterday.
Tenant Zamokuhle Mthembu said he was sleeping when his brother told him the building was on fire.
“I live on the first floor, where the fire started. I left everything and escaped with a bag filled with some of my belongings,” he said.
Firefighters, paramedics and other emergency services were called to the scene.
The scene was barricaded with yellow tape as scores of bystanders watched firefighters battle the blaze. The cause of the fire has not been established yet.
Joburg Emergency Medical Services spokeswoman Nana Radebe said: “When our officials arrived at the scene, there was chaos. The people trapped in the building wanted to jump out.
“No injuries were reported and the people thought to be trapped inside are not there,” she said.
Lucky Sindane, spokesman for the City of Joburg’s group forensics and investigation services unit, said police and members of his team conducted a crime prevention operation at the building.
“We received a complaint from cops about a building that was thought to be hijacked. We went on a fact-finding mission and after our team left, we heard the building go up in flames,” he said.
“Residents told us the owner is overseas and different people collect rent. This technique is similar to the one used by hijackers.
“People can’t live in such buildings, which we try to win back as stolen property and give them back to the rightful owner.
“We are happy with the information we received here.
“Whoever hijacked the building will be arrested soon.”