Arson or sabotage: Concerns about Cape fires


JP Smith, Cape Town mayoral committee member for safety, has expressed his deep concern after SANParks reported an unprecedented level of fires and emergency service workers from the metro had to be haunted again this week to contain several fires, especially those that posed a threat to critical infrastructure has.

The city’s fire and rescue department was deployed on Thursday after a fire raged close to the water treatment plant at the Steenbrasdam. The fire was fought from the air and ground crews worked late into the night to bring the situation under control.

“During the course of the evening, firefighters were dispatched to a fire reported at Slangkop, and shortly before midnight a call was received of a fire near Pinehaven, at the top of Redhill Road in Simonstad,” says Smith.

“Teams that responded to the fire became suspicious when a vehicle suddenly left the area upon the arrival of the first fire engine. With the fire dangerously close to the water treatment plant of the Kleinplaas reservoir, the crews worked through the night and called for additional air support at first light.”

Smith says the fire has been contained and the plant is safe, while officials from the city’s Department of Water and Sanitation have been dispatched to investigate any possible damage.

“SANParks has also experienced an unprecedented level of fires in the park recently and has asked Enviro Wildfire Services to investigate the incidents and prepare a report that determines the likelihood of arson in the incidents.”

Smith particularly strongly condemned the cases where underhanded attempts to thwart the city’s service delivery efforts – such as in the case of fires near the water supply infrastructure – were made.

Prison terms of up to 20 years can be imposed on those found guilty of causing damage to critical infrastructure.

The city is now also offering a reward for information that will lead to the arrest of anyone responsible for the fire that endangered the Steenbras or Kleinvlei water treatment plant.

People were also asked to immediately report any sign of a fire.