NEWS & ANALYSIS

Protesters burn Gugulethu fire station - Cape Town

JP Smith says firefighters were forced to vacate the premises while police dispersed attackers

City appalled by attack on Gugulethu fire station

I awoke to news this morning of an attack on the Gugulethu fire station, which occurred just before 04:30 – apparently perpetrated by protestors in the area.

The building was set alight and firefighters were forced to vacate the premises and remain in the drill yard until Metro Police and Law Enforcement officers had dispersed the protestors.

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, watchroom and security entrance gate were destroyed in the incident. A security vehicle parked at the entrance to the fire station was torched too.

In addition, protestors also targeted the Fezeka municipal offices behind the fire station and torched four vehicles and a storeroom at the local electricity depot. Staff at the Lansdowne Road fire station in Khayelitsha were also put on alert for possible evacuation amid threats that the protestors 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.

The Gugulethu fire station is closed until further notice. Our fire crews will be based at the Mitchells Plain fire station and will dispatch from there. What this means is that the actions of a few have put the lives of thousands of residents at risk, as there will now be a delay in the response times to any fire callouts in the Gugulethu area.

It doesn’t matter how legitimate the cause, we cannot tolerate the wanton destruction and threat to lives that we witnessed this morning.

I appeal to the South African Police Service to do everything possible to bring those responsible to book. The City will assist in any way possible to help find the culprits and we also call on members of the public who might have any information about the events this morning to report it to the police or to the City’s Public Emergence Communication Centre by dialling 107 from a landline or 021 480 7700 from a cellphone.

Statement issued by Alderman JP Smith, Mayoral Committee Member for Safety and Security; and Social Services, City of Cape Town, 12 July 2018