TIMES SELECT TODAY: Inside Joburg fatal fire | Now it’s Guptas vs the US

In his ears forever will ring the voice of his colleague, pleading from within the burning building: “Tebogo, please hurry. The fire is coming towards us.”

Nor will Johannesburg firefighter Tebogo Khoduga ever forget the horror of navigating the dark, smoke-filled corridors of the Bank of Lisbon building engulfed in flames, desperate to find his trapped colleagues.

Finally, on the 24th floor, Khoduga found the firemen’s hoses without a single drop of water.“

Even the hoses were burnt.

”Three weeks after three of his colleagues died while fighting the blaze in central Johannesburg, Khoduga retraced his painful steps in an interview with Times Select.

As SA’s criminal justice system remains unable to prosecute perpetrators of grand corruption in SA, it has emerged that the Zondo commission is not the only investigation under way to break the back of state capture.

On Thursday, human rights lawyer Brian Currin testified that US law enforcement authorities are also in pursuit of the Guptas and have obtained a clone of the hard drive from a whistleblower who exposed the Gupta e-mails.

The commission’s investigators and legal team have asked Judge Raymond Zondo to admit the original hard drive and its clone containing the Gupta e-mails into evidence, not only for use in evidence at the inquiry but also to ensure the integrity of the data should there be future prosecutions and civil action.

The legal team is to make further arguments on this matter on Friday as Zondo is unsure whether all the information on the storage disks, particularly those that have still not been analysed, are relevant to the commission’s work.

My father spoke about death a fair bit. He wasn’t obsessed with it but I suspect he was a little fascinated by it, just as I am. I remember him telling me that he didn’t want a fancy funeral or some swanky walnut-wood coffin with brass handles. It would be a waste of money: he was never one for airs and graces and it wasn’t like he’d be around to enjoy it anyway.

“Just wrap me up in an old burlap sack and bury me in a tomato crate,” he used to say. “Just nail two pits of plywood together and write my name on it with a ballpoint pen, that’s all I need.” My dad wasn’t an old Jewish bobba, but sometimes he spoke like one.

He was clear about one thing: he didn’t want to be cremated. He may not have put on airs and graces, but after the long, undignified struggle of life, something about the thought of being scraped into a jar by some bored technician with a trowel didn’t agree with him.

I was nine or so when we had this conversation, and since then I’ve gone backwards and forwards on what I want to happen when I go. Of course just wanting something doesn’t guarantee anything. Before Vladimir Lenin died in 1924 he asked to be buried in the family plot in St Petersburg, where he could lie for eternity beside his beloved mama. Not an outlandish request, and surely it’s pretty much the least a grateful nation could have done for the father of their glorious new Russia.


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