Cape Town inner-city bar balcony collapse injures 21 people
Cape Town’s popular First Thursdays festivities were cut short after a balcony collapsed at a popular central city bar and restaurant, injuring 21 people.
Twenty-one people were injured after a balcony collapsed at The Athletic Club & Social on Castle Street in Cape Town’s central business district on Thursday evening.
The City of Cape Town’s disaster risk management spokesperson, Charlotte Powell, confirmed that the incident occurred at around 5.50pm.
“The exact circumstances are not known. A total of 21 patients were taken to various hospitals … a city building inspector is on site,” Powell said.
Daily Maverick understands there were no fatalities reported.
The inner city was bustling on Thursday night, with the accident occurring on First Thursday — a cultural event that takes place in Johannesburg and Cape Town on the first Thursday of every month.
When Daily Maverick arrived at the scene at about 7.20pm, two metro police vehicles were still stationed in the area, and Castle Street — which runs perpendicular to Buitengracht Street — was taped off. Debris from the collapsed balcony was scattered on the pavement.
A witness told Daily Maverick he was standing in the road when he saw the balcony collapse. He radioed his office to call an ambulance.
The witness, who asked to remain anonymous, said he rushed to the scene and tried to help injured people. He said one man was “badly hurt” and “bleeding heavily” above his ear.
“I tried to help, but luckily the ambulance came. It could have been worse, because it was still early. Imagine if it had happened after 8pm because the [Athletic Club] is always packed,” he said.
“First Thursday of the month — month-end — oh my goodness, it could have been worse.”
A tearful Faheema Matthews, whose son was injured in the collapse, said he had been taken to Netcare Christiaan Barnard Memorial Hospital after breaking his leg.
The Athletic Club & Social owner Athos Euripidou said on Friday morning that the incident came as an “enormous shock” to the establishment.
“We are all shocked and deeply saddened by the incident and wish to extend our heartfelt apology to those who were affected and are praying that all those injured make a swift and full recovery,” he said.
He said the balcony formed part of La Trip Club & Social on Castle Street, with the Athletic Club & Social around the corner on Buitengracht Street.
Euripidou said the City’s building inspectors had visited the site as part of their investigation, and that La Trip Club & Social was closed pending the finalisation of the investigation.
“We are fully committed to working with the City of Cape Town and other relevant authorities to determine what caused the balcony to give way and to ensure we can resume operations in a safe and secure manner,” he said. DM