City hall’s restoration started

2018-03-07 06:00

More than six months after the historic Bloemfontein City Hall was damaged by fire, the building will be repaired.

Olly Mlamleli, executive mayor of Mangaung, has officially handed over the project to the contractors and architect for the “restoration” process.

The hall, built in 1935, was set alight on 21 June last year at the height of a strike over a wage increase by the workers affiliated to the South African Municipal Workers’ Union (Samwu).

The building was set ablaze amid negotiations between the trade union and the Mangaung City Council over a wage increase of R2 500 and back-dated payment.

An emotional Mlamleli said at the handing over on Friday (02/03) that insurers would ensure that the building be restored to its original state.

The burning of the city hall had sent shock waves throughout South Africa and the world, Mlamleli said.

She emphasised that it was a restoration process and not a rebuilding process.

The complex which includes the city hall had been ensured for R200 million. The work to restore the hall is envisaged to be completed in October 2019.

Mlamleli thanked the Free State Heritage Resources Authority and the Free State Institute of Architects for the support. Anton Roodt, architect in Bloemfontein, said the work would be challenging.

The building’s sophisticated structure was erected in the early 1930’s with extraordinary craftsmanship, characteristic of the work delivered in several overseas countries.

Mlamleli revealed she had been admitted to hospital after the hall had been set on fire.

“That terrible day when the city hall was set alight, I was admitted to hospital for shock,” said Mlamleli.

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