According to Premier Helen Zille, the discarding of cigarette butts out of car windows should be tantamount to attempted arson in light of the ever increasing number of veld fires plaguing the province.
The premier made this statement as she continued to address members of the Western Cape Provincial Legislature on the ever increasing rate of fires across the province.
Zillle says in just 10 years fire figures went from 12 000 fires in one year to 17 000 in just this year’s fire season.
“It is impossible to establish with any certainty the cause of the most of these fires but we know that a great many have to do with human agency, whether by accident or ill intent,” she says.
“All allegations of criminality are referred to the relevant authority to investigate. We will support the relevant authorities to use the full force of the law to track down and deal with any alleged arsonist who endanger the lives and livelihoods of so many.
“I believe that throwing cigarette butts out of car windows should also constitute attempted arson. With our winds, it merely takes a spark to land on a patch of dry grass and become a raging inferno.”
She said efforts were under way to ensure that 97 percent of fires could be brought under control within the first hour of being reported.
“This year the department commissioned 10 purpose-built fire fighting vehicles, which will be deployed to rural municipalities across the province,” she explains.
“This is a huge boost to rural areas where to date the firefighting capacity was severely limited. This initiative forms part of a three-year project to invest R37 million in the province’s firefighting capacity.”