62 Victims of Johannesburg CBD Fire Remain Unidentifiable, DNA Testing Underway

62 Victims of Johannesburg CBD Fire Remain Unidentifiable, DNA Testing Underway

A devastating incident unfolded in the heart of Johannesburg’s Central Business District (CBD) on Thursday, August 31, when a fire erupted in a hijacked building, claiming the lives of at least 78 individuals and leaving numerous others injured, many of whom remain hospitalized.

This tragedy has raised significant concerns, not only due to its high casualty count but also because 62 of the victims’ bodies are currently unidentifiable.

This article delves into the aftermath of this catastrophic event, shedding light on the ongoing efforts to identify the deceased and provide closure to their grieving families.

The Hijacked Building Blaze

The blaze that engulfed the Usindiso building, a five-story structure in the Johannesburg CBD, erupted in the early hours of August 31.

The City of Johannesburg has confirmed that the building had been hijacked, a fact that further complicates the tragedy.

Additionally, emergency services discovered that informal settlements had been established inside the building, adding to the complexity of the rescue and recovery efforts.

Identification Challenges and Post-Mortems

As of Sunday, September 3, the Gauteng Department of Health reported that pathologists had completed post-mortems for 74 of the deceased individuals at the Diepkloof Forensic Pathology Services mortuary.

This count includes three individuals who succumbed to their injuries in the hospital following the fire.

DNA Sampling and Antemortem Swabbing

In an attempt to identify the 62 unidentifiable bodies, the police have collected DNA samples, along with 13 antemortem swabs from families.

It’s worth noting that antemortem samples are exclusively being taken from the siblings or parents of the deceased.

Motalatale Modiba, the spokesperson for the department, explained that once these samples are collected, they will undergo cross-referencing to match them with the deceased individuals.

This process aims to reconnect families with their lost loved ones, providing them with much-needed closure.

Families’ Pursuit of Closure

As of Sunday, September 3, 69 families have come forward to the facility to report their missing loved ones.

This has resulted in the compilation of a list containing 69 names of individuals who may have perished in the fire.

Ten families have successfully identified their loved ones among the 12 identifiable bodies, and seven bodies have been released to their respective families.

Modiba emphasized that once families complete the necessary procedures and present the required identification documents, the mortal remains will be released to them for burial.

Appeal for Assistance

The Gauteng Department of Health continues to urge the families of the 62 unidentifiable deceased bodies from the Johannesburg inner-city fire to visit the Gauteng Forensic Pathology Service mortuary in Diepkloof.

The objective is to assist with the crucial identification process, which includes a DNA test.

As of Sunday, September 3, only 31 individuals remain in hospital care, down from the initial 88 patients treated at various health facilities following the horrifying fire.


The tragic fire in the Johannesburg CBD has left a lasting impact on the affected families and the community as a whole.

The painstaking process of identifying the deceased, exacerbated by the hijacked building’s conditions, underscores the importance of proper housing and safety measures.

As the families affected by this catastrophe continue to seek closure, the authorities are tirelessly working to provide answers and support during these difficult times.

World News

TDPel Media

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