Investigation into Town Centre fire

Solomon Philander, councillor for Ward 79 and Wolfgat Subcouncil chairman, Surayj Toyer Town Centre precinct manager, and Grant Twigg, mayoral committee member for Urban Management in Town Centre.

A full investigation is under way after a fire ravaged a few informal trading stalls and a health and beauty retail store in the Town Centre on New Year on Friday January 1.

Clicks Town Centre only reopened its doors for the first time in 2021 a week after the fire.

Solomon Philander, councillor for Ward 79 and Wolfgat Sub-council chairman, Grant Twigg, the City of Cape Town’s mayoral committee member for urban management and Surayj Toyer, Town Centre precinct manager and Central Improvement District (CID) Town Centre representatives conducted a site visit to the area a day after the fire.

Mr Philander said the fire started minutes after President Cyril Ramaphosa announced the increase of national Covid-19 lockdown restrictions to Level 3.

“To prevent this from happening again we ask all informal traders to abide with the restrictions.

“All traders must on a daily basis and at the end of trading collect and remove all their waste, packaging material, stock and equipment,” he said.

During their visit the traders referred to their “watchmen” who looked after their goods during the night.

“This has to cease immediately to make progress possible together. I will approach the law enforcement agencies to act accordingly as we must prevent further fires and incidents that will set us back,” Mr Philander said.

The Informal Trading By-law as gazetted in November 2009 (gazette no. 6677) prohibits the overnighting and erecting of structures in informal trading spaces.

Mr Philander said the Town Centre is a trading zone, which meant everyone trading must have a trading permit.

“The cause of the fire is exactly due to contraventions of the Informal Trading By-law,” he said.

Mr Philander acknowledged the constitutional right to trade but said it could not be done at the risk of others.

“Due to the fire emanating from informal trading it caused damage to the formal structure and affected the Clicks operation to be closed due to safety reasons,” he said.

City of Cape Town Fire Services spokesman Jermaine Carelse said they responded at 10.13pm.

Wynberg and Kuils River fire crews were on scene.

It was in fact “stalletjies” in front of Clicks that was burning, however, the strong winds blew the flames into the roof void of the store.

“Firefighters used a carborundum cutter to gain access to the shop – they cut the moon locks of the shutter doors.”

He said the store manager arrived shortly thereafter and opened for the crews.

The fire was isolated quickly and damages included the façade of the shop, false ceiling and electrical wiring.

The shop was ventilated and the fire extinguished at 11.20pm.

Susann Caminada, Clicks spokesperson, confirmed that the shop reopened on Saturday January 9.