Johannesburg academics demand justice for fire victims

A total of 117 academics from the University of the Witwatersrand and the University of Johannesburg (UJ) in South Africa have joined together to sign a letter to “demand that the City of Johannesburg justly compensates families of those who perished and other residents who lived at 80 Albert Street”, where a fire broke out on 31 August 2023 in a government-owned building, killing 77 people, writes Mark Heywood for the Daily Maverick.

The letter calls “on all residents of our city to hold our many mayors and mayoral committee members, former and current, responsible for the decay of scores of inner-city buildings”. According to Kate Alexander, professor of sociology at UJ’s Centre for Social Change, there is enormous anger at both universities at the growing injustice and suffering faced by poor people in the city that is home to both universities, their staff and students. This was reflected in the way support for the letter had “snowballed”.

Alexander adds: “We can take it for granted that academics don’t like xenophobia. UJ has officially supported three civil society demonstrations against xenophobia and the vice-chancellor led one on campus. Both universities emphasise the importance of internationalism, and a large number of academic staff, as well as students, are foreign nationals.
Full report on the Daily Maverick site