Procurement inquiry documents lost in Eastern Cape premier office fire

Cape Town – Documents linked to an important inquiry were lost in a blaze that broke out at the premises of the Office of the Eastern Cape Premier Phumulo Masualle in Bhisho on Friday afternoon.

The portion of the building where the fire started housed supply chain management and procurement documents, provincial spokesperson Sonwabo Mbananga confirmed.

He said documents that were in the process of being scanned were lost.

They related to a wide-ranging investigation into procurement in the province, dating back to 2010.

An unused garage was also gutted.

Staff on site noticed the fire around 15:00 and rushed out of the building. The fire was eventually extinguished.

No injuries were reported.

Masualle was attending the ANC’s policy conference in Johannesburg at the time.

"Firefighters must be allowed and given the space to conduct their investigations and determine the extent and cause of the damage," said Mbananga.

Earlier on Friday, the finance offices of the Gauteng Premier's department were destroyed in a fire. The apparent cause was an electrical fault.

Almost 300 staff members were evacuated from the offices and no injuries were reported.

Mbananga would not speculate on whether the fires were linked.

"That is for investigators to decide. If the two events are linked, law enforcement [officers] are more than capable of dealing with foul play."