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Fire at government offices disrupts service delivery – KZN Social Development

Government offices gutted by fire in Ndwedwe. Picture: Supplied

Government offices gutted by fire in Ndwedwe. Picture: Supplied

Published Jul 17, 2023


Durban — KwaZulu-Natal Department of Social Development MEC said that the fire at the Bhamshela government offices disrupts service delivery.

In a statement on Friday, the department called for a thorough investigation into a destructive fire that broke out on Thursday at the Thusong Service Centre, housing government offices in Bhamshela, resulting in significant damage and the interruption of vital services.

The department said that the mysterious fire engulfed the office precinct, which housed the offices of the Department of Social Development, Home Affairs, South African Police Service and the municipality, leaving a trail of damage to property and documents.

It said that while the exact cause of the fire remains uncertain, preliminary findings suggest a potential link to load shedding as the blaze erupted shortly after electricity was restored.

The department said that the fire initially originated in the Department of Social Development’s storage area, leading to the destruction of essential files, including foster care grant applications, both physical and digital.

MEC Nonhlanhla Khoza acknowledged the profound impact on service delivery.

“The loss of critical documents, particularly those related to foster care grant applications, is deeply regrettable. We understand the frustration and urgency faced by those awaiting assistance,” Khoza said.

The MEC said that immediate efforts are under way to assess the extent of the damage and mobilise all available resources to swiftly restore disrupted services.

The department has commenced discussions with other sister departments and relevant authorities to explore options for data recovery and expedite the resumption of services.

Khoza assured affected individuals, especially foster parents and guardians, that special measures will be implemented to address their urgent needs.

“We urge all clients to reach out to their nearest Social Development office for immediate assistance. Our dedicated teams are ready to provide support and guidance during this challenging period. Alternative methods for processing applications and ensuring continuity of assistance are being actively pursued,” Khoza said.

The centre was built as part of government’s efforts to bring essential services closer to the people. Some of the departments that were housed at the centre included Home Affairs, Social Development and Health. Picture: Supplied

She also appealed to the community for calm and patience as the government was working on a plan to address the situation.

“We are committed to resolving the situation swiftly and minimising further disruptions to our services,” Khoza said.

She expressed gratitude to emergency services, law enforcement agencies and all individuals involved in containing the fire, whose prompt actions prevented further escalation and ensured the safety of all personnel.

Meanwhile, on Friday, the Daily News reported that Ndwedwe Local Municipality mayor Sam Mfeka said he was busy engaging with the provincial government to seek temporary measures to minimise the disruptions to essential services after Thusong Centre in Bhamshela burnt down on Thursday night.

The centre, which houses almost all departments, including the South African Social Security Agency, was gutted by fire which almost destroyed it.

According to the statement issued by the municipality, the mayor said although police and the municipality were still investigating, no foul play was suspected.

The mayor said that, in the meantime, people can come to Ndwedwe near municipality offices to access similar services while the municipality tries to source help from the provincial leadership.

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Daily News