Suspected foul play has been ruled out as the cause of a fire in the Yale Road staff residential quarters on East Campus on Friday. The fire led to the death of David Sekhoela after he sustained critical injuries.
Sekhoela, a Servest worker, died in hospital on Saturday September 15.
The cause of the fire is still being investigated.
Most of the Yale Road residents are contract workers at Wits.
Richard Quinton, the responsible engineer at the Property and Infrastructure Management Division, said: “Many unsubstantiated rumours are being spread concerning the circumstances surrounding the case and [we are] considering conflicting statements received from various witnessing parties.”
Sekhoela’s former roommate, Paul Skotho, was in Germiston on the night of the fire. He was informed of the incident by phone on Saturday.
He remembered Sekhoela as “a joyful person who enjoyed laughing”.
“He wasn’t very vocal, like if someone made him angry, he would get angry but he would be laughing the next day.”
Chairperson of the National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union (Nehawu) at Wits and Yale Road resident, Richard Sadiki, said Sekhoela had complained that as a contract worker he was not allowed to use just any pedestrian entrance to Wits.
Sadiki said Sekhoela had jokingly said it was better for him to go home because he was a “prisoner” at Wits.
“Maybe this wouldn’t have happened if he had just gone home,” Sadiki said.
Each room in the Yale Road residence traditionally contributes R50 to housemates who have suffered personal tragedies or to the families of those who die. Recently, R1100 was raised for the family of late resident Samson Makhunga. Sadiki said Sekhoela had not contributed to the fund for Makhunga.
Asking for donations for Sekhoela at a house meeting on Tuesday, Sadiki appealed for housemates to give voluntarily “in an African way”.
“Even if he made a mistake when he was alive, we cannot just punish him because he didn’t agree with us.”
Wits acting registrar Nita Lawton-Misra conveyed condolences on behalf of the university.
“Our deepest sympathies go out to the family, friends and colleagues of Mr Sekhoela, and those who knew him well.”
This tragic incident is being investigated by the SAPS in collaboration with the health and safety manager of the company the victim worked for.
Published in Wits Vuvuzela 25th edition, 21st September 2012