A building which used to belong to the Saps Public Order Policing unit in Midblock Road, Komani, was engulfed in flames on Friday afternoon.
When The Rep arrived at the scene, police officials were already there, as well as fire fighters who tried to extinguish the fire and prevent it from spreading.
According to Tamie Moalosi, a car wash owner whose business is situated next to the building had received a phone call from one of his employees about the incident which caused panic among his customers. “Some of our customers left out of fear. We had to close our business for three hours because the police officials had barricaded the scene.”
Moalosi said vagrants were occupying the building, indicating that they could have started the blaze.
His employee, Anele Marawu, said he was on duty that day and he and other workers saw smoke coming from the direction of the building. “We had to alert the garage behind us because they were unaware of the situation. Our customers started to panic and feared an explosion because the garage was not far from our premises. So they left while their cars were being washed and we had to stop operations.”
Marawu said they had seen vagrants vandalising the building, smoking drugs and sleeping inside the premises.
Police spokeswoman Captain Namhla Mdleleni said the building was vacant and a case of malicious damage to property had been opened and an investigation into what caused the fire was under way.