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Cape Town inner-city bar balcony collapse injures 21 people

Cape Town inner-city bar balcony collapse injures 21 people
The Athletic Club & Social’s balcony collapsed, injuring 21 people in the Cape Town CBD, 2 November 2023. (Photo: Shelley Christians)

Cape Town’s popular First Thursdays festivities were cut short after a balcony collapsed at a popular central city bar and restaurant, injuring 21 people.

Twenty-one people were injured after a balcony collapsed at The Athletic Club & Social on Castle Street in Cape Town’s central business district on Thursday evening. 

The City of Cape Town’s disaster risk management spokesperson, Charlotte Powell, confirmed that the incident occurred at around 5.50pm. 

“The exact circumstances are not known. A total of 21 patients were taken to various hospitals … a city building inspector is on site,” Powell said. 

Daily Maverick understands there were no fatalities reported. 

The inner city was bustling on Thursday night, with the accident occurring on First Thursday — a cultural event that takes place in Johannesburg and Cape Town on the first Thursday of every month.

The Athletic Club & Social’s balcony collapsed, injuring 21 people in the Cape Town CBD, 2 November 2023. (Photo: Shelley Christians)

The Athletic Club & Social’s balcony after the collapse, 2 November 2023. (Photo: Shelley Christians)

When Daily Maverick arrived at the scene at about 7.20pm, two metro police vehicles were still stationed in the area, and Castle Street — which runs perpendicular to Buitengracht Street — was taped off. Debris from the collapsed balcony was scattered on the pavement.  

A witness told Daily Maverick he was standing in the road when he saw the balcony collapse. He radioed his office to call an ambulance. 

The witness, who asked to remain anonymous, said he rushed to the scene and tried to help injured people. He said one man was “badly hurt” and “bleeding heavily” above his ear. 

“I tried to help, but luckily the ambulance came. It could have been worse, because it was still early. Imagine if it had happened after 8pm because the [Athletic Club] is always packed,” he said. 

“First Thursday of the month — month-end — oh my goodness, it could have been worse.”

Faheema Matthews’ son Shaheen was injured during the balcony collapse. She came to see where it happened. (Photo: Shelley Christians)

A tearful Faheema Matthews, whose son was injured in the collapse, said he had been taken to Netcare Christiaan Barnard Memorial Hospital after breaking his leg. 

‘Shocked’

The Athletic Club & Social owner Athos Euripidou said on Friday morning that the incident came as an “enormous shock” to the establishment. 

“We are all shocked and deeply saddened by the incident and wish to extend our heartfelt apology to those who were affected and are praying that all those injured make a swift and full recovery,” he said. 

He said the balcony formed part of La Trip Club & Social on Castle Street, with the Athletic Club & Social around the corner on Buitengracht Street.

Euripidou said the City’s building inspectors had visited the site as part of their investigation, and that La Trip Club & Social was closed pending the finalisation of the investigation.

“We are fully committed to working with the City of Cape Town and other relevant authorities to determine what caused the balcony to give way and to ensure we can resume operations in a safe and secure manner,” he said. DM

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Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • specialsecret73 says:

    I’m guessing a mass of people were dancing on the balcony when it collapsed. Truly terrible incident.

  • Dennis Bailey says:

    While an unfortunate incident, I’m trying to understand why this is lead story. It happened last night and there is no info on substandard workmanship, municipal permits ( backhanders), people accountable. A truck almost demolished a house in Pietermaritzberg killing the driver and already there’re questions about road worthy truck and roadworthy road. I can read a scant story @ news 24.

  • Jay Pather says:

    The headline in your mail out – First Thursdays bar balcony collapses – is misleading and casts a pall on that artist event. This is about a bar in an established building. I urge you to change this.

    • T MC says:

      Why is the headline being questioned? It is an inner city venue. People were on the balcony that collapsed (otherwise there wouldn’t be so many casualties). 21 people were injured. That’s an accurate headline.

      • Errol T says:

        He is talking about the heading in a “mail out”, ie an email of news articles. Not the heading as it appears here.

      • Errol T says:

        Dear Journalist,

        The first line in the article states this:
        “Twenty-one people were injured after a balcony collapsed at The Athletic Club & Social on Castle Street in Cape Town’s central business district on Thursday evening.”

        Near the end of the article there is this sentence:
        “He said the balcony formed part of La Trip Club & Social on Castle Street, with the Athletic Club & Social around the corner on Buitengracht Street.”

        So which is it? Did the balcony collapse “at” the Athletic Club & Social, or “around the corner from” the Athletic Club & Social?

  • ilike homophones says:

    i have read all the comments,
    and i can now form an informed opinion on this matter:

    it appears to be a act of god

  • David Byers says:

    Two questions 1) did a structural engineer design & provide written approval of the balcony; 2 ) Did a CCT building inspector provide written approval of the completed balcony

  • Jacci Babich says:

    A horrid thing to happen. Sympathy to those who were injured. Surely the balcony was not intended to hold lots of people partying?

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