Expert warns of uphill journey ahead in Marshalltown fire case

todayJanuary 25, 2024 22

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Legal analyst, Mpumelelo Zikalala, says the police and the NPA have their work cut out in building a strong case against the man who has confessed to have torched the Marshalltown building, in which more than 70 people perished last year.
On Tuesday, an unnamed 29-year-old man was arrested after he confessed to the Commission of Inquiry that probing the cause of the inferno at the hijacked and rundown Usindiso building in Joburg’s inner city.
He told the commission that he ignited the fire to burn the body of a man he had strangled to death.
One hundred and 20 people were injured and dozens others displaced due to the August blaze.
According to Gauteng police spokesperson, Colonel Dimakatso Nevhuhulwi, the suspect is facing charges of arson, 76 counts of murder and 120 counts of attempted murder.
Zikalala says the NPA might have to take into consideration that people who testify before commissions of inquiries are usually granted immunity.

In this case, however, the legal expert says he hopes that things turn out differently.

He says the NGOs that represent the victims of the fire might have a stronger case of getting accountability by holding the City of Joburg responsible.

He cites the lack of fire hydrants at the building as one of the arguments the victims can argue successfully in court.

Zikalala says if the man who¬†confessed to setting the building on fire doesn’t have money, suing him will be a waste of time.
In a separate matter, a 30-year-old woman is in police custody after setting another building in the Johannesburg CBD on fire, killing two people.
Her matter returns to Johannesburg Magistrate’s Court next week after it was postponed for further investigations on Monday.
She has been charged with arson and two counts of murder.
It’s understood the fire that’s left 160 people displaced, was started during a lover’s quarrel.

Written by: Nokwazi Qumbisa

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