Bloemfontein City Hall razed during municipal worker dispute
Firefighters managed to extinguish a fire at the historic City Hall in Bloemfontein late last night but the damage is believed to run into the millions.
The roof of the City Hall collapsed at approximately 8.20pm on Wednesday but the fire was brought under control by 10pm‚ according to local media reports.
The cause of the fire is yet to be established but arson is suspected.
Local newspaper‚ the Bloemfontein Courant‚ reported that the fire broke out during a scuffle between police and angry workers affiliated to Samwu. Workers are reportedly in dispute with the city over a promised salary increase.
Police are investigating‚ with Brigadier Motantsi Makhele telling OFM news: "Three workers were arrested earlier‚ but we are still continuing with the investigation."
The sandstone building is a national conservation area.
Built in 1935‚ SAhistory.org states it was designed by Sir Gordon Leith. The Bloemfontein City Hall leads into the Clarendon Hall‚ known for its two large granite bowls either side of the western entrance which is the same as the Viceroy's House in New Delhi‚ India. This is attributed to Leith knowing Edwin Lutyens‚ the architect of Viceroy's House‚ in India.
South Africans reacted with shock to the fire.