CAPE TOWN, July 12 – The Guguletu Fire Station in Cape Town was set alight by protesters, the City of Cape Town Fire and Rescue said on Thursday.
Firefighters vacated the premises and had to remain in the drill yard until Metro Police and Law Enforcement arrived to disperse the protesters.
City of Cape Town Fire and Rescue spokesperson Theo Layne said: “The front of the Fire Station had sustained severe damage, including the Watchroom, Engine bay doors and Security entrance gate.”
In addition to the incident, the Fizeka offices at the back end of the fire station were set alight, with one of the office sections sustaining severe damage.
“Firefighters from Mitchell’s Plain Fire Station responded to the incident but due to blocked roadways, caused by protesters burning tyres, had to take a long detour in order to get to Guguletu Fire Station,” Layne said.
In another protest-related incident, four motor vehicles and a store area were set alight, as well as the electricity depot near the NY 78 in Guguletu.
City of Cape Town Mayoral Committee Member for Safety and Security and Social Services, JP Smith, in a statement, said the city is appalled by the attack on the fire station and said it would cost the city as much as R1 million to repair the station.
“It will take several days to ascertain the cost of the damage wrought in this callous attack, but on the face of it, we are potentially looking at as much as a million rand; money that will have to be diverted from another community project as the repair of the fire station is a priority. The engine bay doors, watch-room and security entrance gate were destroyed in the incident. A security vehicle parked at the entrance to the fire station was torched too,” Smith said.
According to Smith, staff members at the Lansdowne Road fire station in Khayelitsha were put on alert for a possible evacuation amid threats that protesters were planning to target that facility too.
“We are thankful that no one was injured, but this has been a very traumatic experience for the nine firefighters who were on duty at the time. The City has arranged trauma counselling for all affected staff and will provide any other support they might need. It doesn’t matter how legitimate the cause, we cannot tolerate the wanton destruction and threat to lives that we witnessed this morning,” said Smith.
The Guguletu Fire Station crew will be based at the Mitchells Plain fire station and will dispatch from there. However, there will now be a delay in the response times to any fire call-outs in the Gugulethu area.
Anyone with information about the incident was asked to report it to the police or the City’s Public Emergency Communication Centre on 107 or 021 480 7700.