Just after 6pm on Wednesday, an electrical substation caught alight in the basement of the V&A Waterfront shopping centre, which had visitors trying to exit the centre in a panic. Photo: Twitter

Cape Town – The V&A Waterfront was partially open for business today after a suspected electrical fault caused a fire that resulted in an evacuation.

Just after 6pm on Wednesday, an electrical substation caught alight in the basement of the shopping centre, which had visitors trying to exit the centre in a panic.

Spokesperson Donald Kau said major outlets in the Victoria Wharf mall were operational, but smaller stores remained closed until further notice.

"Major brands like Woolworths and Pick n Pay are open. The food court and the play area are also open," he told News24. "We are hoping to be fully operational by tomorrow."

However, Kau wasn't willing to comment on a family's horror experience when panic ensued after the whole centre became filled with smoke. He told the Cape Times he could not comment without first receiving their security team’s account of what had transpired.

“Smoke would have travelled throughout the parking areas as well as upstairs into the retail shopping and food areas, and would have obviously affected visitors. We managed to evacuate everyone, no injuries have been reported. "

"Fire and emergency medical response teams were on site to clear the site after the incident to allow people to retrieve their motor vehicles,” he said.

Waterfront visitor Sonia Terblanche said people were in a panic on Wednesday and didn't know what was going on, and no one could leave the building for more than half an hour.

She told the Cape Times she, her husband and two children were inside a restaurant when smoke began filling the area and had attempted to exit the building as they could not breathe.

“When we got outside the restaurant, there were no wheelchair facilities for the babies in the pram. We had to go back into the lift and the lifts were locked with people inside.

"We ran back to go outside again but the doors were locked. We couldn't get out and couldn't breathe, smoke burning our eyes and our lungs.

“A man forced the doors open from the outside and we could get out. My husband then ran back inside to trigger the fire alarm but it could only be operated by the security, and they refused to set the fire alarm off,” said Terblanche.