A fire ignited by a lightning strike has destroyed a Mvezo Welcome Centre in a South African village where anti-apartheid icon Nelson Mandela was born, his family announced Sunday.
The tourism building was still under construction and due to serve as the initial point of contact for tourists, with an information desk, shops and an eatery.
Mvezo Welcome Centre fire
No foul play suspected
The centre was struck by lightning over the weekend and “its thatched roof caught fire resulting in the complete destruction of the centre,” the late president’s grandson Mandla Mandela said a statement.
Photos shared on social media showed the thatched roof engulfed in flames.
“This was an act of nature and no foul play or any other cause is suspected,” said Mandela, a parliamentarian who is also the local chief of Mvezo village, the late Mandela’s birthplace.
Mandela’s prison key
The building, which was at “an advanced stage of construction” was funded by the national lottery organiser.
Mvezo is in the Eastern Cape province where six people drowned in flooding from torrential rain on Saturday.
The fire occurred just days after a planned auction of the key to the prison cell that once held Mandela was suspended at the government’s request.
Proceeds from the sale were targeted for the building of a Mandela Memorial Garden in Qunu, about 20 kilometres (12 miles) away, where the former president was buried.
© Agence France-Presse