The Boksburg community is still reeling in shock as they try to come to terms with the death of 17 people, including three children, due to a gas leak on Wednesday night at the Angelo informal settlement. Several others have been hospitalised.
It is suspected that members of the community inhaled nitrate oxide from the leaked cylinder.
President Cyril Ramaphosa has extended his condolences to the families of the 17 people.
Apparently, illegal miners who live in the community, clean and refine gold with gas cylinders. The cause of the leak is unknown and is being investigated.
Boksburg Gas Leak | Residents say they reported the incident earlier to authorities:
Delayed Police Response
The Gauteng Police Commissioner, Elias Mawela, says the state of the Angelo informal settlement, resulted in a delayed police response. Mawela says it is difficult for police or emergency services to gain access to the informal settlement.
“It’s not only difficult for the police to access the area but for all the emergency services because even the ambulance, even the fire fighters cannot even enter this particular space. It affects our response time. The communities here complain that you call the police, they take time to respond. Obviously there’s no address. There’s no street name. There’s no lighting, it is congested. So the living condition for the people here, so bad and if the living conditions are like this, it makes the criminals to also come and harbour in that particular space. So it is conducive for criminals to come and stay in that particular area.”
Gauteng Premier, Panyaza Lesufi, says the province supports the calls from the Boksburg community to deploy the army in the province to deal with the issue of illegal miners and the lives being lost as a result of their trade.
Lesufi says the firepower of police needs to be strengthened.
“The community is calling for the army, we have called for the army as well. The process of deploying the army is highly regulated, even when they are deployed, they can’t openly engage. They need to give support to the police and other things. We need a combination of many things. The army can assist but they can’t be here permanently. It must be a limited period. The call for the army is correct, we support that, but I believe we need to strengthen the fire power of (the) police force.”
While there have also been various reports of the smell of gas still lingering in the air, Lesufi says the area has been declared safe.
Boksburg Gas Leak | Gauteng Premier calls for a special strategy to curb illegal mining: