Copper thieves cause Red Location Museum fire

Copper thieves cause Red Location Museum fire
Copper thieves cause Red Location Museum fire
Image: Michael Kimberley

Parts of Port Elizabeth's once prized Red Location Museum caught fire on Monday afternoon.

The fire is believed to have been caused by thieves stealing cables inside the Museum, which has been closed since 2013 due to a housing dispute between residents and the Nelson Mandela Bay municipality and Eastern Cape department of human settlements.

Speaking on Monday night, a frantic Ward 15 councillor Celia Mtati said the fire was started by copper cable thieves inside the Museum.

Mtati said thugs had broken into the back of the museum, removed cables from the walls and burnt them in order to get to the copper which was when the fire broke out.

"They've literally taken everything and there's nothing left to steal so now they're removing the cables," Mtati said.

Mtati said the different clusters in the ward, including the one she was in, had proposed to city officials to fence off the museum because it was dying a slow death.

"I've written a letter to the MMC of sports, recreation, arts and culture [Lehlohonolo Mfana requesting a meeting because we can't continue like this.

"The security provided by the municipality are scared of these thugs because they tell them they're from prison and we can't blame them.

"The community also needs to support the security guards because they know who these boys are," Mtati said.

Resident Thando Msikinya, who lives near the Museum, said parts of the inside of the facility had been damaged by the fire.

He said it was caused by vandals.

Over the years, thieves and vandals have continued to strip the museum piece by price, stealing everything from the fence to equipment inside.

They have also damaged some of historic artifacts.

Police spokesman Captain Andre Beetge said the police had not yet been notified about the fire.