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Fires raging through the Northern Cape: Thorough investigation into allegations of arson is crucial

There is usually too little grass in the almost barren province of the Northern Cape to feed raging veld fires. But not this year. After the good autumn rains of the previous season, the north of the province has, for the past few weeks, been plagued by serious and extensive fires.

It raises the question of whether these fires are due to natural causes or arson. The FF Plus is, therefore, requesting the police to conduct a thorough investigation into the matter in cooperation with organised agricultural as well as other organisations aimed at assisting landowners with safety matters.

Over the past few days, the fires have made the headlines time and again because they surrounded the provincial capital, Kimberley, on three sides.

At times, the N12 and N8 main routes also had to be closed to traffic. In the weeks prior to that, equally serious fires raged in other, less densely populated parts of the province. The so-called "Ghaapse Mountain" burnt all the way from Koopmansfontein at Daniëlskuil to near Kuruman.

For those in other parts of the country, these may sound like the romantic place names of remote parts of South Africa, but for those who live there, it is their only home. And if it does not rain soon, one disaster may very well lead to another.

The question in residents of the area's mind is whether these fires are the result of dense vegetation that dried out during the winter and the strong winds, or whether there has been some sort of foul play. Owning land is a very volatile matter in today's political context. So, the question on everyone's lips is whether this is an orchestrated attempt to drive people off their land.

Although the farming community, as well as others who are not farmers, is well organised, it is impossible to guard the thousands of kilometres of veld that border on roads – and criminal elements are well aware of this fact.

Therefore, it is crucial that the police use all available resources to determine what is really going on. That includes gleaning information from informants as well as using footage from private security structures on farms.

 

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