SANDF heritage object with more than 100 years of history destroyed in fire in Pretoria

A general-purpose hangar classified as a “heritage structure” has been destroyed in a devastating fire at the Air Force Base Swartkop in Pretoria, SA National Defence Force (SANDF) confirmed on Saturday. An extensive damage was caused to the historical military object, but no one was injured or killed.

The SANDF aver the hangar was empty when the blaze broke out and no aircraft or museum artefacts have been damaged.

The Swartkop base officials say the cause of the fire remains unknown. A coordinated work of the Base Fire Services and the Tshwane Fire Service brigades allowed to cope with the fire before any damage could be caused to other base vehicles and equipment.

“The SANDF with the support of the Tshwane Fire Services will immediately initiate a preliminary investigation and/or a board of inquiry to determine the cause and extent of the fire,” the SANDF said in a statement. 

The AFB Swartkops was the first established South African air force base built in the early 1920s.

“This loss of the hangar is a setback to the South African Air Force and the history of Military Aviation worldwide. Since 2012, the Chief of the South African Air Force, Lt Gen FZ Msimang, has initiated a programme to preserve and promote our Air Force history, which includes former TBVC states and the Armed Wings of Former Liberation Movements in relation to the corresponding political, social and economic dispensation of the country under the theme “embracing our collective heritage’. One of the fundamental elements in nation-building and cultivating a cohesive society is the reconfiguration of the heritage landscape to ensure that it reflects the diversity and the incredible efforts of the unity of our society,” the statement read.

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