It will be five years tomorrow that the Bank of Lisbon building was engulfed in flames and three firefighters — Simphiwe Moropane, Mduduzi Ndlovu and Khathutshelo Muedi — lost their lives. The building — which had housed provincial government departments — and all its 26 floors, was demolished a little over a year later.

Not too far from that building, on the other side of Commissioner Street where Delvers Street meets Albert Street, more than 70 lives were lost last week in the Usindiso building inferno, the most tragic example of the human cost of postapartheid inner-city decay and its link to so many other issues — immigration, housing, unemployment and the enforcement of building regulations, and the challenges of city governance. ..

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