Arsonist turns heat on municipality

Image: STOCK

A Free State man is in hospital under heavy police guard following an arson incident at a local municipality's offices two weeks ago.

The 45-year-old man was treated for severe burn wounds at the Dihlabeng Provincial Hospital in Bethlehem after a fire gutted the Nketoana municipality offices.

Police spokesperson Puleng Lebakeng confirmed that a case of arson was opened at Reitz police station.

"Police are investigating a case of arson. A 45-year-old man, who is an alleged suspect in this case, is expected to appear in court soon. He has since been hospitalised and has not yet appeared in court.

"They say he is suspected to be the one who burnt the finance office at municipal offices," said Lebakeng.

Nketoana's corporate services director Mokete Nhlapo also confirmed that a disgruntled member of the community allegedly set the small town's municipal offices alight.

"A section of the main office in Reitz was set on fire by a community member who had come to the office to recover the amount of money that his mother had deposited into the municipality's bank account to partially settle a debt.

"He became angry when he was informed that the money cannot be recovered. He allegedly used petrol to set the office on fire," said Nhlapo.

Nhlapo said the building was closed for four days to allow police investigations to take place. "Only one employee sustained a minor abrasive injury on his left hand for which medical attention was received. None of the employees sustained burn injuries."

Eye witnesses said the furious man barged into the municipal office carrying a 20-litre container filled with petrol and yelling that local officials were corrupt as they refused to pay back his mother's money.

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