Khayelitsha hall unusable after arson attempt

2017-05-22 15:31
The damaged caused to the Solomon Mahlangu Hall in Khayelitsha.

The damaged caused to the Solomon Mahlangu Hall in Khayelitsha. (City of Cape Town)

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There was an attempt to burn down the Solomon Mahlangu Hall in Khayelitsha over the weekend. 

According to a report by Mayco member for safety and security and social services, JP Smith, the incident occurred on Sunday 21 May at about 14:00. 

This action, he says,  was thought to be in reaction to the dismantling of illegal structures which were built on various public open spaces in the area. He says after the Land Invasion Unit and police had left the area, a group of people set the rear canopy of a bakkie alight inside the foyer of the hall in an attempt to burn down the building. 

“The City’s Rapid Response team had to be called back urgently to protect the hall. The fire department was able to respond in time to stop the fire from taking hold of the building, but it has sustained severe smoke damage rendering it unusable. In addition, all of the windows have been broken and the trees and vegetation planted around this precinct have been ripped up.” 

Smith says staff were stationed inside the hall overnight in case further attempts were made to burn down the hall. He further says the City has recently spent over R7 million in upgrading this hall into one of the premier community facilities in the city. 

“The damage caused by this act of vandalism is an immense blow for the Department of Recreation and Parks as this hall is a very popular space for sporting and recreation programmes, such as indoor basketball and netball. These clubs are amongst the many users who are going to have to cancel their programmes in the coming weeks whilst repairs are underway. Assessments are underway so that emergency budget can be sourced to repair this hall as soon as possible, but it is always very difficult to source money for unexpected repairs such as this.” 

Over the weekend, the City also received additional threats regarding the burning down of the newly opened Kuyasa Regional Library. Since Saturday, there has been Law Enforcement personnel on site to ensure the protection of this library, its staff and users. The Special Investigation Unit has opened a case and will be investigating this incident.                                                

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