The extent of damage due to the fire which ravaged part of a shopping complex in Mahikeng Monday morning could have been reduced had adequate resources been provided to firefighters. This is according to the South African Municipal Workers Union (Samwu) which maintains that their members are exposed to dangers of fire due to poor resources.
The fire station in Mahikeng under the district municipality of Ngaka Modiri Molema had to fight the raging fire on shops along the Station Road with dysfunctional resources.
A water pump fitted to the main truck could not suck the water out due to the failure of a generator. Back up trucks were then summoned from neighbouring local municipalities of Ditsobotla and Ratlou which took some time to arrive.
It is believed the fire broke in one of the shops and extended to other shops.
Samwu’s provincial chairperson Joe Qelesile says, more could have been done to contain the fire.
“Our members, the workers arrived here on time. The problem is that the equipment that they are using has got problems. It does not have power to pump water and they struggled also with the fire hydrants because the nearby fire hydrants do not have water. They have been damaged by members of the community,” says Qelesile.
WATCH | Shops looted, some on fire
Some of the customers were concerned about lay-bye agreements they have signed with some of the clothing outlets as they prepare for the festive season. At least eight shops have been gutted. They include furniture and clothing outlets.
The exact cause of the fire is still not known at this stage – but an electrical fault is suspected.
However, Jacob Mmane a store manager in one of the shops says they only started operating a few weeks ago. Mmane says they have hoped to make good sales this festive.
While the firefighters were trying to stop the blaze, some residents attempted to loot some of the shops with police having their hands full to stop the people.
The Mahikeng Local Municipality has meantime established a task team that will assist the police authorities with the investigations.