South Africa: Noordhoek Fire - Parks Authority Suspects Arson, Lays Charge Against Man

Table Mountain National Parks (TMNP) says a charge has been laid against a man believed to be part of a group of people who allegedly set fire to vegetation in Noordhoek, Cape Town, but the man has since been released.

TMNP spokesperson Lauren Clayton said South African National Parks laid the charge against the man but: "Unfortunately, there won't be a record as yet as the suspect was released soon after arrest."

She said the man was released because of a jurisdictional issue between the Ocean View and Fish Hoek police stations.

"The City of Cape Town Fire and Rescue is however investigating the matter further," Clayton added.

Western Cape police spokesperson Siyabulelo Malo said neither the Ocean View nor Fish Hoek police stations were investigating arson or had a record of any arrests.

'Huge cost to contain these fires'

Referring to the blaze that started on Sunday, TMNP fire manager Philip Prins said: "The helicopter pilot noticed that there was somebody or a group of people walking and starting new fires."

Prins said that most of the affected land fell under TMNP but some was private property.

"He (the man) is walking free... it is a huge cost to contain these fires and took us some time to contain it," he charged.

He claimed it was not the first time that fires had deliberately been started in the Noordhoek wetlands area but said the motive was unclear.

News24 asked the City whether it had opened an arson case against a man, whether he was released and whether it was investigating further.

City and Fire Rescue Service spokesperson Jermaine Carelse responded that they investigated all fires to determine a cause.

"Should indications be that it is arson, the case is referred to [the police], who will take it further. In this case, we are still investigating."

Carelse said the fire had been contained and there was no danger to property.

Firefighters also attended to two hotspots in the area, Paddocks and De Dunes, on Tuesday.

Source: News24

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