Thu. Oct 17th, 2019

Gugulethu protests: Fire station closed after vandals torch vehicles

gugulethu fire station fleet torchedJP Smith condemned the actions of the protesters.

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The City of Cape Town’s MEC for Safety and Security, JP Smith, has condemned the actions of protesters who, in a fit of rage, attached the Gugulethu fire station.

As reported by EWN, the fire station that borders between Gugulethu and Philippi was targeted by protesters between Thursday evening and the early hours of Friday.

What fuelled the Gugulethu protests?

The area has been a fixture of unrest since Wednesday when residents of the Siyabongena informal settlement displayed their disgruntlement with Eskom by pelting cars with stones and torching a Golden Arrow bus.

It is believed that their frustrations came after the power utility apparently cut off electricity supply to the community. While law enforcement officers have been monitoring the unrest, the protesters bided their time and chose the early hours of Friday morning to target the fire station.

What is the extent of the damage?

According to Smith, an unknown group of vandals made their way into the grounds of the fire station and set part of its fleet alight.

When the firefighters were alerted to the smoke that permeated from the parking area of the building, they tried their best to douse the fires.

However, as Smith revealed, their efforts were disrupted by the vandals, who hurled stones at them. According to the MEC for Safety and Security, the full extent of the damage has yet to be properly assessed, but for now, an undisclosed number of fire trucks and cars have been torched, and the building’s bay doors have suffered considerable damage too.

“The thugs behind the distraction will argue that the actions were done in protest, but it’s immaterial because there can be no justification for the ongoing damage and vandalism of city infrastructure serving a venerable community,” he said.

This is the second time in one year that the fire station has been targeted by disgruntled protesters. In 2018, parts of the building were torched by protesters who were up in arms about land. Back then, it cost the City over R1-million to repair the damage.

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