During a very busy Easter weekend that left three people dead and an estimated 600 others displaced as a result of fires, the City’s firefighters also had to contend with yet another hostile reception. Read more below:
The City of Cape Town has noted with disappointment the latest incident of firefighters being attacked in the line of duty.
This past Easter weekend, the City’s Fire and Rescue Service responded to eight informal settlement fires that claimed the lives of two men and an infant and destroyed approximately 200 structures, leaving 600 people displaced. The incidents were recorded in Hout Bay, Mfuleni, Crossroads, Wallacedene, Vrygrond, Gugulethu, the New Rest informal settlement, and Lwandle. Residents were less than welcoming in Vrygrond, where sections of the community pelted firefighters with stones, damaging a fire truck. This is the second incident in the area in just over a week. Earlier this month, a fire truck was damaged and a firefighter hit when an unruly crowd stoned staff and vehicles attending to a fire.
‘Attacks on firefighters are becoming far too commonplace. If people aren’t stoning the fire trucks, they threaten or harass the firefighters trying to get to the frontline or even cut their hoses. It’s unbelievable that the very people the firefighters are trying to protect are causing delays, effectively resulting in a much higher cost both to the affected community and the City. Residents need to realise that we are not the enemy and this type of behaviour could rob them of a potential lifesaving service,’ said the City’s Mayoral Committee Member for Safety and Security; and Social Services, Alderman JP Smith.Over the past six months (October to the end of March), the City’s Fire and Rescue Service responded to 10 922 fires. More than three-quarters of these were rubbish-, grass- and bush-fires. There were 700 fires in formal residential areas and 808 fires in informal areas.
‘We are unable to give definitive figures on the causes of these fires because quite a number of incidents list the cause as undetermined. However, what we have noticed is that electrical faults, open flames, cooking, and smoking are definite contributing factors. Sadly, there are also far too many incidents where substance abuse features. I therefore ask the public to please be particularly cautious when using any flammable materials,’ added Alderman Smith.
On the subject of substance abuse, the City’s Traffic Service arrested 22 motorists for drunk driving and issued 217 fines at roadblocks in Athlone and Gordon’s Bay at the start of the Easter weekend.
The City’s Metro Police Department arrested a further 13 motorists for drunk driving – 11 of them at a roadblock in the Muizenberg area. In addition, Metro Police officers arrested nine suspects on charges of drug possession, assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm, and housebreaking.
Meanwhile, a 31-year-old woman failed to ‘Ctrl+Alt+Del’ her way out of a sticky situation when a street person tipped off Law Enforcement officers who found her with a laptop behind some bushes in the vicinity of the Cape Town Stadium on Monday 17 April 2017. The woman could not account for how she had obtained the laptop and was detained at the Sea Point police station on a charge of possession of suspected stolen property.