In the early hours of Saturday morning, residents of Komani (Queenstown) in the Eastern Cape watched helplessly as the town hall burned to ashes.
The local fire truck was still out of order
At 23:00 on Friday night, emergency services were alerted about the fire. However, the local fire truck was due for repairs for months and still does not have an engine.
And so, members of the Community Police Forum and other volunteers tried their best to prevent the fire from spreading to adjacent buildings. But sadly, not much could be done to save the iconic town hall.
Photos of a massive fire at the Queenstown town hall— Prof Mighti (@MightiJamie) January 29, 2022
The historical Komani Town Hall building which houses the Enoch Mgijima Local Municipality council. pic.twitter.com/8CBTv53Amh
This is the fourth Enoch Mgijima municipality building to go up in flames
According to reports, the fire started under the stage of the hall. Here, all archives were kept, but the actual cause of the fire has not yet been revealed.
The Komani Town Hall marks the fourth Enoch Mgijima municipal building to burn down in the past two years. All four buildings were reported to contain “valuable and sensitive municipal records”. And this included records of “foul play and maladministration within the municipal halls”.
The DA condemns the neglect from the municipality
The DA spoke out regarding the fire and condemned the municipality for its ongoing neglect and lack of basic services.
According to Jane Cowly, MPL and Enoch Mgijima constituency leader, a brand-new vehicle was bought instead of fixing the fire truck.
“The municipality alleges that they have no money for repairs, yet they have funds to purchase a brand-new vehicle to the value of R671 550 for the Speaker, and this was done without a council resolution.”
“Imagine the difference this amount could have made to the municipal firefighting department! They could have paid for the repairs to the fire-truck engine, purchased new equipment and uniforms, and would have been in a position to save the beautiful town hall.”
The Komani Town Hall is insured
The building was home to the offices of the executive mayor and speaker, the chief whip, municipal manager, and chief operating officer.
And according to municipality spokesperson, Lonwabo Kowa, the building is insured.
“However, the furniture and working equipment were destroyed in the fire. Nearby buildings were not affected, as firefighters managed to put all efforts to ensure that the fire did not spread.”
The Komani Town Hall’s foundation was laid in 1882, with the clock tower being added in 1897 to commemorate Queen Victoria’s diamond jubilee.