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'We tried to save them'

A Joburg firefighter who was one the first people at the scene of last week’s deadly fire in the city centre has described to Eyewitness News how he tried in vain to save three of his colleagues.

Firefighters stand in front of the Bank of Lisbon building where 3 of their colleagues died while trying to extinguish a fire. A memorial service was held for the firefighters on 12 September 2018. Picture: Christa Eybers/EWN

JOHANNESBURG – A Joburg firefighter who was one the first people at the scene of last week’s deadly fire in the city centre has described to Eyewitness News how he tried in vain to save three of his colleagues.

Mduduzi Ndlovu and Khathutshelo Muedi died on the 23rd floor of the Bank of Lisbon building when were got trapped by the raging flames.

Their colleague, Simphiwe Moropana, fell to his death.

On Wednesday, throngs of people, including colleagues in the emergency field, joined their bereaved families as they bid them farewell in a memorial service held at Ellis Park Arena.

“I’m hurting... my heart is broken but I have to continue with life.”

WATCH: Joburg firefighter: We're broken

Themba Tshemese stands with his hands behind his back, one wrapped in a bandage, a painful reminder of what he was confronted with a week ago.

He shows us his injuries while explaining how he tried to pull his colleagues from the blaze.

“We tried. As you see, can my hands are recovering from the burns, but I’m okay because I’m the fireman.”

Like many others, Tshemese was not on duty but he rose to the challenge.

When he heard about the massive blaze he had to go help his colleagues.

But Tshemese could never have imagined that the events of 5 September would unfold the way they did losing his three friends all at once under tragic circumstances.

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