DA offices destroyed by blaze

2014-09-19 00:00

TWO opposition parties are demanding answers after their offices were gutted by recent fires in the KwaZulu-Natal legislature.

In the latest incident, six out of 10 DA offices were completely destroyed when a fire broke out in the legislature complex on Wednesday evening.

The incident comes just weeks after the IFP’s offices were destroyed by fire.

Pietermaritzburg fire department spokesperson Issack Khan said the fire was at an advanced stage when they arrived on the scene. “We managed to put the fire out, but the second floor roof had already collapsed,” said Khan.

Legislature spokesperson Wesley Canham said the building caught fire at about 11 pm. “The fire had damaged the entire ground and upper floors of the offices. We cannot say what caused the fire. We are still providing forensic investigators with necessary information to begin the process of investigation, which will include establishing the cause of the fire.”

Canham added that the report into what caused a fire that destroyed IFP offices has not yet been completed.

Provincial DA leader Sizwe Mchunu said the party is shocked and devastated and will contract a private forensic investigator to determine what caused the fire.

“Only four offices in a separate wing managed to escape the blaze. Otherwise the interior is nothing but burnt timber,” Mchunu said.

He said the fire came at a time when there is division over the building of a new legislature precinct that the DA had opposed.

“It comes after concerns expressed by the party over the lack of maintenance being carried out within the existing legislature precinct.”

The IFP caucus leader Blessed Gwala said this is a “political conspiracy” to disrupt the work of the opposition.

“This can be viewed as a desperate attempt to add strength to the call for the building of a new legislature complex,” Gwala said.

“We view these incidents with a great deal of suspicion as it is too much of a coincidence that only the offices of the two largest opposition parties have been destroyed.”

The DA Chief Whip Mark Steele was fuming, saying no one bothered to inform them. “I arrived in the morning and found our offices burnt. We want a full investigation as to what caused the fire.”

But Canham said the DA were told of the fire, and were offered office space in the Timber Street building.

Provincial police spokesperson Thulani Zwane said they are investigating the possibility of arson.

• khanyisani.dlomo@witness.co.za

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