Starting at 11pm on Saturday, 28 February 2015, wildfires broke out and spread across the Cape Peninsula. In just the first week of March, over 6,000 hectares of nature reserve and private farms were burned. In that week alone, 2,000 firefighters and volunteers were mobilised, 2 million litres of water was dropped on the fire in 2,000 air drops by 26 aircraft, including 11 helicopters, 6 fixed wing aircraft and 9 spotter planes, to deal with 11 separate fires. 198 hours of flying time was dedicated to water-bombing the wild fires. The cost of the firefighting during that first week of March was estimated to exceed six Million Rand.
With Malicious Intent
At a media briefing at the Newlands Forest Station, SANParks Fire Manager, Phillip Prins, declared that as they were convinced that these fires had been started deliberately, they had appointed Mr Rob Erasmus, a Wildfire Forensic Investigator to examine the evidence. Mr Erasmus, from Enviro Wildfire Services, was quoted in the Tattler News (2/4/15) saying that the first fire began in Peck's Valley above Muizenberg and there were multiple points of ignition found along Boyes Drive. He said the fire that erupted in Scarborough at Baskloof Private Nature Reserve had definitely been deliberately set: "The fire was set with malicious intent. It started in the afternoon with multiple ignitions close to the road." Baskloof is one of 15 landowners on the Peninsula that make use of the Enviro Wildfire Services.
Evidence of Malice
He reported that it was straightforward to pin-point the starting point of each fire and depending on the wind direction, burn indicators, how and where the ash is formed, and the way the trees lie and the cracks in the rocks, they can narrow down the fire's origin and examine the evidence. In addition, they had received approximately 50 reports from witnesses. Mr Erasmus noted that about 90% of veld fires are caused by humans, of which about 30% are caused deliberately. Anyone who has information relating to possible causes of the recent fires can contact Rob Erasmus on email@example.com.
Fire on the Common
Rondebosch Common was hit by two separate fires within 9 days. The first fire, Friday, 20 March, and the second, Sunday, 29 March, have left a large swathe of Rondebosch Common damaged by the fire. Independent Forensic Investigator, David Klatzow, reports that two men were seen on the Common at the origin point of the second fire, just minutes before it started. They were seen running away from the area in a very suspicious manner.
Rondebosch Common consists of 100 acres of valuable biodiversity. Of the hundreds of plant species that occur on Rondebosch Common, at least 9 are on the Red Data List. Rondebosch Common also protects 110 species of bird, 4 species of snake, as well as other small mammals, reptiles and amphibians. The Common also contains one of the only surviving pockets of the critically endangered Cape Flats Sand Fynbos vegetation, which exists nowhere else in the world. Rondebosch Common is a National Monument, a protected Conservation Area and an acclaimed Heritage site. The Friends of Rondebosch Common, which is affiliated to the Wildlife and Environment Society (WESSA), are asking for extreme vigilance by residents. Anyone with information as to suspicious, or unusual behaviour, is requested to communicate to firstname.lastname@example.org.
To Make the Cape Ungovernable
Several firefighters have commented to me that most of these recent wildfires are deliberately set by arsonists. Others have commented that it is disturbing that these fires are occurring after the ANCs 103rd year Rally at Cape Town stadium, where they declared their intention to: "make the Cape ungovernable!" The Western Cape is the only province in South Africa that is controlled by an opposition party.
"Who will rise up for Me against the wicked? Who will make a stand for Me against the workers of iniquity?" Psalm 94:16
Dr. Peter Hammond