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January 20th, 2017 by

Cape Town has been hit by multiple fires, despite being less than three weeks into the new year.

Speculation has mounted that the possible cause behind many of the fires is arson and not accidental. While it is unclear what the motive for starting the fire is, unsubstantiated claims are doing the rounds. Some believe if it is indeed arson it could be a political sabotage to undermine the Western Cape government, while others believe it is just mischief.

A 14-year-old boy has been linked to the fire started on Signal Hill last week and over the weekend. He was identified by Bo-Kaap residents as a suspect, but fled the scene before policemen arrived.

 JP Smith, the mayoral committee member for safety security said, “When the fires started, [the residents] noticed the fire was ignited at three separate points about 10 minutes apart. [It was] undoubtedly arson.”

Between 1 November 2016 and 12 January 2017, Fire and Rescue services have responded to 5465 fires, or 75 per day. More than 80% of these fires were classified as bush, grass, or rubbish fires.

Smith went on to say that hundreds of other fires were also “caused by people”, but the reason could be anything from negligence (for the fires in Grabouw, for instance) to maliciousness.

Areas Affected By The Fires

fires, cape fires, noordhoek fires
So far, this year, fires have ravaged communities in the following areas:

  • Bo-Kaap
  • Somerset-West
  • Stilbaai
  • Mosselbaai
  • Vredehoek
  • Paarl
  • Simon’s Town
  • Noordhoek
  • Clanwilliam
  • Hermanus

This video, taken by Anthony Molyneux for TimesLive, shows the firemen working tirelessly to put out the fire on Table Mountain at the beginning of this week:

Cost Of The Cape Fires On Taxpayers

The fires have cost the City of Cape Town and its ratepayers millions. The four houses damaged in Vredehoek alone have amounted to R4.5 million in damages. Smith would like to extend a reward for any credible information that could lead to arrests.

“You must pray … we see them.”

The following audio clip was sent to The Citizen of a Paarl farmer who said she could allegedly see arsonists starting fires intentionally, in broad daylight, on farms as helicopters flew by overhead.

The audio clip was sent to a WhatsApp group dedicated to fighting the fires in the Cape Winelands.

“Oh, you must pray. We are standing in our kitchen, seeing how a farm is being set on fire. The helicopter is on its way to another fire and we are seeing how they are setting another farm on fire while the helicopters are flying over them. Waldi is standing and looking at them through his binoculars … we see them, Marinette, we see them burning. You must just pray.”