The Pretoria News front page picture on the day the building burnt down.
Pretoria - The ANC in Tshwane has called on the Hawks to investigate the city’s Finance MMC Mare-Lise Fourie for what they claim is her “involvement” in the fire that destroyed Munitoria in 1997.

The 44-year-old municipal headquarters building was where Tshwane House stands today. The fire started in the west wing and spread through the building. It took more than 250 firefighters four days to put it out and by then the building and many city records had been destroyed. At the time of the fire, Fourie had been a town treasurer, responsible for council finances.

Munitoria was demolished in 2013 to make way for Tshwane House. At a media briefing on Friday at the ANC offices, the party, which is now in opposition, called for the DA-led administration to remove Fourie from her position while their claims are investigated.

Party chief whip Aaron Maluleka said the Hawks should investigate what he called “the suspicious ownership of land and houses as well as properties owned by the city, of which records were made to disappear after Munitoria was set ablaze”.

The ANC alleges Fourie was appointed as the MMC for finance in the city to cover her tracks and “as a reward” for the 1997 “cover-up”.

At the time an electrical fault was blamed for starting the fire, which spread because the building was non-compliant with fire safety regulations. Another claim was that the fire had been started by disgruntled workers.

But Maluleka now says the fire was started intentionally to destroy records of white-owned corporations and property companies formed by former National Party councillors who, he said, became millionaires.

“On an urgent basis, the ANC calls on law-enforcement agencies to speedily attend to vultures that masquerade as property owners of several buildings in Pretoria West and amass (money) from unsuspecting tenants. These are vultures who took ownership of these properties and are taking advantage of the work of the former town treasurer (Fourie),” Maluleka said.

Mayoral spokesperson Samkelo Mgobozi dismissed the claim and said the DA would not consider removing Fourie.

“The members who make up the mayoral committee were appointed in terms of the executive mayor’s executive authority,” he said. Fourie was appointed based on her extensive financial capabilities, to lead efforts to stabilise the city’s finances, which he said the previous (ANC) administration had left in shambles.

Regarding any investigation into the fire, Mgobozi said the DA had nothing to hide. It welcomed an investigation into what had destroyed the building, which burnt down while the ANC was in charge, long before the DA assumed office.

ANC deputy chairperson Mapiti Matsena said a report was commissioned by former mayor, Father Smangaliso Mkhatshwa in 2001 to investigate the fire, and was submitted to council at the time.

“The report gives us a serious indication that there was (sic) some irregularities and, according to that report, a former town treasurer played a major role.”

Matsena claimed Fourie resigned immediately when she realised she was implicated in the report.

“Because she was implicated in the report she doesn’t even want to relocate to Tshwane House.”

Pretoria News