by Jack Bloom MPL – DA Gauteng Shadow Health MEC
Reports on safety hazards at the Bank of Lisbon (BoL) building were not acted on because an Occupational Health and Safety Committee (OHSC) was only set up in the second quarter of this year.
This information was revealed at a meeting of the Gauteng Legislature’s Health Committed held yesterday to receive a briefing from officials in the wake of the deadly fire that started at the Department’s head office.
Former Gauteng Health MEC Qedani Mahlangu failed to ensure that there was an Occupational Health and Safety Committee (OHSC) for the BoL building, and it took more than a year for Health MEC Gwen Ramokgopa to get it set up only a few months ago.
An OHSC is required to be set up in terms of Section 19 of the Occupational Health and Safety Act, so the Department was in breach of safety legislation for five years, including the whole period when Qedani Mahlangu was Health MEC from May 2014 to January 2017.
The OHSC had only two meetings this year, and did not receive the recent report from the Department of Infrastructure Development (DID) that indicated that the building was only 21% compliant with safety standards.
The lack of a functioning OHSC in the past few years can be seen as a major contributor to the tragic fire in which three firefighters died.
It was also revealed that there was a tender last year to relocate health officials from the building but it was cancelled by DID for various reasons.
The DA’s motion for Ramokgopa and DID MEC Jacob Mamabolo to resign or be fired by the Premier is currently being considered by the Speaker of the Gauteng Legislature.
Ramokgopa and Mamabolo should resign now rather than wait for the Legislature to debate their obvious failures that led to this Esidimeni-type tragedy where multiple warnings were ignored about safety hazards at the building.