Table Mountain arson suspect appears in court as helicopters water bomb remaining fires

Table Mountain arson suspect appears in court as helicopters water bomb remaining fires

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Cape Town – A 35-year-old Table Mountain arson suspect appeared in court on Tuesday.

‘’Frederick Mhangazo appeared at Cape Town Regional Court today. The Tanzanian national is charged with arson,’’ National Prosecuting Authority spokesperson Eric Ntabazalila said.

His case has been postponed to April 28 for bail information, Ntabazalila added.

News24 reported that he lives in a makeshift structure on the slopes of the mountain. His pro bono lawyer, Shaun Balram, said his client had no previous convictions or pending matters, and maintains that he was being wrongly accused.

Mhangazo was apprehended in Phillip Kgosana Drive on Sunday night. The local neighbourhood watch allegedly saw three men making a fire on the slopes of Table Mountain and alerted law enforcement authorities.

Anton Bredell, Local Government, Environmental Affairs and Development Planning MEC, said on Tuesday the danger is not entirely over just yet.

“Our first priority remains fully extinguishing all of the fire lines. Then over the next few days, firefighters will continue to dampen down the affected areas and monitor for flare-ups until we are one hundred percent sure the fire is out.

’’Damage assessments will be done as well and once the fire has been extinguished, the investigation into the cause of the fire will be conducted,” Bredell said.

Meanwhile, The City’s Environmental Health Service is doing ongoing water sampling at the Molteno reservoir in Oranjezicht to ensure that any ash from the fires on Table Mountain does not affect the water quality.

Three Working on Fire (WOF) Huey helicopters and an SA Air Force Oryx are currently water bombing the last remaining fires on Table Mountain, using the reservoir as a resource, with reports of a huge flare-up.

The WOF helicopters conduct two hours of water bombing before returning to its Newlands base to refuel, WOF posted on Twitter.

Due to gale-force winds on Monday, helicopters were not able to be deployed.

The City’s Disaster Risk Management Centre (DRM) said in a statement on Tuesday it has coordinated joint damage assessments in order to initiate repairs to the roadways and other City infrastructure damaged by fire that started near Rhodes Memorial.

‘’Solid Waste Management has been activated to clear the fire debris. The Electricity Department has advised that no major damage has occurred to the medium voltage infrastructure. However, the overhead lines to affected buildings have been damaged.

‘’During the course of the last night, residents who were evacuated were given the go-ahead to return to their homes.

‘’The DRMC would like to thank the neighbourhood watches for assisting us with the evacuation call. This is a clear indication that working with DRM volunteers and neighbourhood watches strengthens resilience in a major incident.’’

City Fire and Rescue Service spokesperson Jermaine Carelse said early this morning: “Three days since the start of the devastating Rhodes Memorial blaze, the fire has been largely contained with firefighting efforts now focused on Deer Park and the Disa Park towers in Vredehoek.

“Crews have worked tirelessly and the wind having died down considerably, has given them some respite.”

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