Guests at Mmabatho Palms Hotel Casino Convention Resort lost all their belongings after a fire broke out at the Mahikeng-based hotel in the North West on Wednesday morning.
The 64 guests affected include Deputy Minister of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development, Nokuzola Capa who was on an official visit to the province for the first time since she was appointed in the job last month.
Capa said she was still shocked by what happened at the four-star 44-year-old iconic hotel.
“The incident happened around 1am just after I went to bed. I was woken up by some smell of smoke. I stood up and I tried to find the lights and they did not light and I tried to find the door, I opened it and got out. I saw smoke all over the corridor. I started screaming in the passage. I said 'guys wake up there is fire'.
“I tried going to another entrance but it seemed to be closed. I was just estimating that the stairs I saw might be going to emergency exist, I ran down the stairs, saw people trying to get their belongings. I was just persuading them to leave the building. I ran up until at the gate. That was when I tried to call the VIP security and got into the car. I lost all my work on my computer, all the information is gone,” Capa told the media.
She complained that there was no form of an alert when the fire broke out.
“There was no siren, water sprinters, nothing of that nature and there was no one who was directing anyone towards the assembly point and the confusion aroused from there,” said the deputy minister.
Peermont Hotels and Resorts Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Nigel Atherton, said it will take time for the resort to be fixed and operate again.
“The hotel damage is extensive and it will take some time to reinstate. Technically it takes twelve months to build. I can’t comment about the extent of the damage, whether these structural issues require investigations. We have an entertainment side of a casino. It does look like the damage on that side is quite limited. So I’m hoping we will be able to start operations as soon as the property is handed over to us, hopefully within a week. Obviously this will help us in terms of securing people’s jobs,” Atherton said.
North West Premier, Bushy Maape, who attended the scene on his first day on the job, said according to his inspection the damage was extensive.
“I cannot give you the damage in terms of costs but just from a layperson's inspection the damage is quite extensive. I don’t stay far from the hotel. I inhaled the smoke and when I woke up I learned that the hotel was on fire. The report I got from the police was that there were no casualties but we will wait for the CEO for more details, said Maape.
North West deputy police commissioner, Patrick Asaneng, said police are investigating the cause of the fire.
“We intend to conduct an in-depth investigation. We are not leaving anything to chance. We don’t want to subject ourselves to speculation. We are conducting an open-minded investigation to try and ascertain the real cause of the fire,” said Asaneng.
Peermont Hotels and Resorts said it would reimburse all customers who lost their belongings in the fire that damaged the 150-bed hotel.