Fire at Land Affairs: An accident or sabotage?

2010-08-26 00:00

STAFF of the Land Affairs Department in Pietermaritz Street closed for business before 10 am yesterday because of a fire alert.

The Registrar of Deeds on the fifth floor of the building was filled with smoke, apparently after a negligent smoker had carelessly dropped a cigarette, causing a fire.

Some staff members were suspicious that this could have been an act of sabotage by pickets who are trying to mobilise support for the public servants’ strike.

However, the Registrar of Deeds, Audrey Gwangwa, warned the staff not to jump to conclusions and to wait until the Fire Department has completed its investigation into what had caused the fire.

She confirmed that her offices had closed early because of the fire alarm.

She could not confirm the extent of the damage as the area where the fire had occurred had been sealed off for the investigation.

Inspector Richard Dlamini of the uMsunduzi Fire Department said the fire started in the air-conditioning intake on the fifth floor. The department would spend the rest of the day on a forensic investigation to try to establish the cause, he added.

The Land Affairs Department building seems to be jinxed. It was only a few weeks ago that a lift was trapped between floors when too many people tried to use it at once. The people inside were rescued without injury.

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