If you live in the Cape Town City Bowl, the sound of choppers flying overhead becomes something of a soundtrack to your daily life.
There have been a number of big fires since the turn of the year, with the Lion’s Head fire towards the end of January the most frightening of the lot.
Every time a fire sparks up, there are rumblings and accusations of arson, but nobody is brought to justice (aside from that one guy in April last year).
Yesterday, though, at Vredehoek’s Van Riebeeck Park, a man was caught red-handed. Below from Cape Town Etc:
On Sunday afternoon, at approximately 3.15pm, Auxiliary Law Enforcement officers responded to a call for assistance from the City Bowl Armed Response on the local Neighbourhood Watch community radio. The caller reported that a “riotous male” was throwing stones at members of the public and City Bowl Armed Response officers in Van Riebeeck Park.
On arrival, the Auxiliary Law Enforcement officers found the male in question setting fire to the mountainside.
The suspect was detained while officers managed to obtain a garden hose from a neighbouring house and used it to extinguish the fire before being joined by fire service team members.
City of Cape Town Law Enforcement spokesperson Wayne Dyason confirmed that the man was arrested and charged with arson. He added:
“Officers later found out that this is the second fire the suspect has been arrested for this year, the first one at the end of January 2019.”
Authorities now believe the arsonist may be linked to “at least two other fires”.
Having lived in Vredehoek for a number of years, I know that park is home to many vagrants, and one can often see smoke coming from a small fire.
There’s a difference between starting a fire for warmth, or to cook a meal, and attempting to burn down the park, though. Going by the fact that the man involved was throwing stones at members of the public, one feels that there may be psychological issues in play.
Given the cost of fighting fires, the damage caused to the environment, and the time and resources spent by organisations like VWS, the law needs to come down very hard on people found guilty of arson.
Hopefully, this case can serve as a deterrent for those considering something similar in the future.
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