Retired Justice Gladys Johnson Displaced by Fire

Rubble from the fire that gutted former Justice Gladys Johnson's home

Published August 2, 2021

Retired Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of Liberia, Cllr. Gladys Johnson is now compelled to sleep in the basement of what remains of her shattered two storey seven-bedroom house recently devastated by fire.

Justice Johnson’s home on SKD Boulevard, Congo Town, caught fire on the night of July 15, 2021.

She jumped out of her bedroom partially naked when her daughter, Bendu, raised an alarm that there was a fire in the house.

“I ran across the road and watched my house burn,” retired Justice Johnson said, adding, “I thought I was dreaming.”

That night Johnson said she recalled saying, “Lord, you mean everything that I own and the memory of our children growing up here, as far back as 1977, is going to go down like this?”

She explained that everything she had in Liberia including three manuscripts she had written and all of her memories like pictures were left in the fire.

“All my certificates, my decoration and pictures from my retirement ceremony performed by President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf were burnt,” she said.

Justice Johnson retired as Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of Liberia in April 2011.

She said that she has no record right now, except the ones in her head.

Retired Supreme Court Justice, Cllr. Gladys Johnson

Justice Johnson disclosed that her daughter’s Passport and American Green Card were also destroyed by the fire.

She also had US$ 3,000 and an unspecified amount of Liberian Dollar in the house when it burnt.

The retired Supreme Court Justice disclosed that she had just returned from the US Embassy, where she was issued an America Visa to enable her seek medical treatment abroad the very day her home burnt.

She dismissed claims by some individuals that she might have done something wrong that led to the burning of her home.

“You know some people will say that it is some of the things that they did; they failed to know that Jesus Christ did nothing and he went through punishment. Job did nothing and he went through a crisis, but here in Liberia when bad things happen to people, the first thought is that that person might have done something. You don’t have to do something for bad things to happen to you,” she said.

Retired Justice Johnson, however, said “I am sorry that this home that we cherish ended up this way. I have no idea why it happened.”

She cautioned, “It is wrong to blame people for their misfortune. Bad things can happen to good people just how good things can happen to bad people.”

“I don’t want them to say that I did bad things and that is why my house got burnt, because houses got burnt all of the time,” Justice Johnson said in tears.

Retired Justice Johnson said she considers the incident as a test of her faith, stressing, “I am not terribly disturbed. I buried my two sons and I am still here. God will give me the same strength to still be here.”

Retired Justice Johnson lauded the Liberia National Fire Service for responding to the fire incident and said she awaits a report from it and the Liberia National Police, which also visited the scene.

In the absence of reports from the Police and Fire Service, some residents have blamed the incident to an arson attack, a claim retired Justice Johnson has dismissed. At least two neighbors said that they heard an explosive sound that night minutes before the fire incident, but the retired Supreme Court Justice said in an interview that only reports from the police and firefighters will determine what caused the fire that night.