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Bloemfontein City Hall reopened

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Staff Reporter

The Bloemfontein City Hall which was gutted by fire in June 2017 has been reopened after extensive refurbishments which lasted about three years.

The imposing national heritage site, along President Brand Street in the Free State capital, was officially reopened on Thursday by Mangaung executive mayor Mxolisi Siyonzana during a special ceremony.

The event was attended by Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs MEC Mxolisi Dukwana.

Siyonzana said the hall – which was built in 1936 – is an important part of Bloemfontein’s history.

He said he was happy that the work done on the hall following the fire destruction has been able to restore it to its former glory.

“It’s very important that the City Hall has been restored to its former self and we should therefore do everything to preserve it as it is an important part of the history of this city,” said Siyonzana.

Mangaung executive mayor Mxolisi Siyonzana

Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs MEC Mxolisi Dukwana

Dukwana stressed the importance of preserving heritage sites and not resort to destroying property when aggrieved.

“The challenge we are facing in society . . . is actually informed by ignorance,” said Dukwana.

“Many a time we interchange the word ‘boldness’ with ‘courage’ as if they mean the same thing.

“There are many of us who are bold in our actions, but sometimes boldness is very destructive.

“You need to have courageous men and women who will understand that whatever we do . . . our actions must at all times reflect what we would like to see as a solution.”

Dukwana urged people in leadership to stand for the people and deliver what they promised and not wait for people, including the workers, to revolt.

“Many a time we are capable of destroying things that very important to us,” said the MEC.

“In a moment of anger, we become destructive . . .

“I think it’s high time the political parties in this metro take to heart that it is easy to fight for votes, but it is important to understand that once you are elected, you serve the people of the city.”

The architect of the building, Anton Roodt, said he was excited they were able to restore the hall, although alternative material had to be used in some cases in line with modern-day health requirements.

“Reconstructing a building which was completely destroyed by fire is a daunting task,” said Roodt.

“It is much more than merely renovating a building . . . Most of what you see around you has been replaced by means of replicas or reconstruction.”

The Italian style interior was largely retained but the sky-roof was replaced with lights that give a similar feel.

The window frames were also upgraded and they blend in well with the rest of the interior.

The floor, made out of Zimbabwean teak-wood, has been retained with its springs which give a slight thrust as you walk.

There is a new sound system as well as lighting.

The stage has also been improved.

The City Hall went up in smoke on June 21, 2017 after vandals set the building on fire.

The fire was lit during a protest by the South African Municipal Workers’ Union.

It remains unclear who set the building on fire.

The municipal archives in the building were lost in the fire.

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Municipal manager facing tender fraud charges granted bail

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THE ACCUSED . . . Maluti-a-Phofung municipal manager Futhuli Patrick Mothamaha is out on bail

Maluti-a-Phofung municipal manager Futhuli Patrick Mothamaha, 49, was on Friday released on a bail of R500 000 by the Phuthaditjhaba Magistrates Court after he was arrested by The Hawks for fraud, corruption and Contravention of the Municipal Finance Management Act.

The state alleges that he allegedly awarded a contract of R58 million to Kill Crime Security Company in 2020 without following proper procurement processes.

National Prosecuting Authority regional spokesperson Phaladi Shuping said Mothamaha allegedly signed a service level agreement on May 19, 2020, appointing the company to render security services to the municipality for a period of three months without following procurement processes.

“The municipality continued to pay Kill Crime Security Company for almost two years without a contract,” said Shuping.

He said Mothamaha was supposed to appear with his co-accused, father and daughter who are the owners of Kill Crime Security, Thabiso, 55, and Dimakatso Sekhosana, 29, on Monday after they were instructed by The Hawks to hand themselves over on Sunday, but he failed to do so.

The Sekhosanas appeared on Monday facing similar charges and were released on bail of R150 000 each.

Part of Mothamaha’s bail conditions are that he must not enter the offices of the municipality, not interfere with the investigations nor intimidate witnesses.

The case was postponed to September 30 for further investigations. – Staff Reporter

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Six nabbed for alleged theft of network batteries

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NABBED . . .  The six men believed to have stolen network batteries and damaged critical infrastructure

 Six men were due to appear in the Marquard Magistrates Court on Friday after being found in possession of eight network batteries believed to have been stolen.

Police spokesperson for the eastern Free State, Warrant Officer Mmako Mophiring, said the suspects were arrested following a joint effort by members of the SA Police Service, private security and farmers.

He said police received information from the community at about 3am last Wednesday saying some unknown men were digging up network boxes and cutting copper inside a manhole.

“The police activated and mobilised other members and arrested the first suspect who is a foreign national near a filling station while sitting inside a vehicle,” said Mophiring.

The man was arrested for possession of suspected stolen property after eight network power box batteries were found in his possession and failed to properly account for them.

While pursuing the matter with the help of some farmers, the police received information at about 8am that some five men were trying to hitch-hike near a certain farm to Senekal.

“The team quickly responded and arrested the three suspects who were successfully linked to the initially arrested suspect. Two other suspects managed to escape but were chased and arrested near a farm going to Senekal. Four of the six suspects are Illegal immigrants and two are South Africans,” he explained.

The six are aged between 23 and 30 years of age.

They are facing charges of contravening the Immigration Act, possession of suspected stolen property and damage of infrastructure.

Provincial Police Commissioner Lieutenant General Baile Motswenyane applauded the community and the team for the prompt arrests and urged them to “continue working together to fight crime”.

Meanwhile, three suspected armed robbers were sniffed out of their hideout in Thaba Nchu near Serwalo on Thursday morning following a petrol station robbery.

Police spokesperson in Mangaung, Sergeant Mahlomola Kareli, said in a separate statement four armed robbers arrived at the petrol garage just after midnight on Wednesday and threatened the security guard with a firearm before tying him up with wire and fleeing the scene with a undisclosed amount of cash and cans of motor vehicle oil.

The suspects demanded keys from the guard and gained access to the back offices.

And while others were busy helping themselves to the oil cans and cigarettes, others were busy grinding the safe to access the money inside.

The four then left the security guard with his hands and feet tightly fastened with a wire.

The guard was only rescued by staff starting duty at 5am.

The matter was reported to the police and a case of armed robbery was opened at Thaba Nchu Police Station and a manhunt was launched.

Luck ran out for three of the suspects aged between 38 and 40 after they were traced and found near Serwalo in Thaba Nchu at about 2am on Thursday and were arrested.

They were found with an undisclosed amount of money suspected to have been stolen during the robbery.

One suspect remains at large.

The three were due to appear in the Thaba Nchu Magistrates Court on Friday for business robbery. – Staff Reporter

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Garden scissor attacker nabbed

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THE CRIME TOOL . . . A 64-year-old man allegedly used this garden scissor to attack a man and his family

A 64-year-old man has been arrested after stabbing one person in the stomach with a broken garden scissor and injuring the victim’s family while holding them hostage.

Police say they were called to a place in Verkeerdevlei on Wednesday evening where a person had been stabbed in the stomach.

Upon arrival, they found a 53-year-old man who had been stabbed in the stomach with the broken scissor.

The suspect had already fled the scene.

“The victim was taken to hospital for medical treatment,” said Captain Stephen Thakeng in a brief statement.

Further investigations revealed that the same suspect went to the house of the victim’s 36-year-old daughter house where he held her and her two children – aged 13 and 15 – hostage.

“Tactical Response Team (TRT) members from Park Road were activated at about 21:30 and it was realised that the suspect was holding (the family) hostage in a three-roomed shack,” said Thakeng.

“The TRT members gained entry into the shack and rescued the three from the suspect.

“The three victims were also stabbed with the same half part of the big scissor.”

The suspect is facing a charge of attempted murder and three counts of assault with intent to cause grievous bodily harm.

He will appear in the Verkeerdevlei Magistrates Court soon.

THE CRIME TOOL . . . A 64-year-old man allegedly used this garden scissor to attack a man and his family

Meanwhile, a man believed to be terrorising tuckshop owners around Bothaville was arrested on Wednesday following a tip-off by community members.

Police say they received information about a man with a firearm and who might be involved in robberies of tuck shops of foreign nationals at about 16:30.

The suspect’s house in Kgotsong was identified and members of Bothaville Crime Prevention approached it and asked for permission to search the place.

They were granted permission and a 9mm pistol was found and a 27-year-old man from Potchefstroom was arrested for possession of an unlicensed firearm.

The suspect will appear in the Bothaville Magistrates Court soon. – Staff Reporter

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