Picture: Supplied/City of Cape Town

Cape Town - The City of Cape Town's safety and security chief JP Smith said it was too early to determine the extent of the damage caused by the violent protest in which the Gugulethu fire station was torched. 

Smith said no matter how legitimate the cause, the City could not tolerate the "wanton destruction and threat to lives that we witnessed this morning".

"It will take several days to ascertain the cost of the damage wrought in this callous attack, but on the face of it, we are potentially looking at as much as a million rand; money that will have to be diverted from another community project as the repair of the fire station is a priority," Smith said. 

"The engine bay doors, watchroom and security entrance gate were destroyed in the incident. A security vehicle parked at the entrance to the fire station was torched too.

"In addition, protestors also targeted the Fezeka municipal offices behind the fire station and torched four vehicles and a storeroom at the local electricity depot. Staff at the Lansdowne Road fire station in Khayelitsha were also put on alert for possible evacuation amid threats that the protestors were planning to target that facility too.

"We are thankful that no-one was injured, but this has been a very traumatic experience for the nine firefighters who were on duty at the time. The City has arranged trauma counselling for all affected staff and will provide any other support they might need," he said. 

The Gugulethu fire station would remain closed until further notice. 

"Our fire crews will be based at the Mitchells Plain fire station and will dispatch from there. What this means is that the actions of a few have put the lives of thousands of residents at risk, as there will now be a delay in the response times to any fire callouts in the Gugulethu area," Smith said.

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Cape Argus