Charges of arson dropped against man arrested in Cape Town fire case
Cape Town - The man arrested in connection with the blaze that started at the slopes of Devils Peak, last week, was released on bail, after charges of arson had been dropped.
The accused, Frederick Mhangazo, 35, appeared at the Cape Town Magistrates Court on Wednesday afternoon.
National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) spokesperson Eric Ntabazalila confirmed the charge of arson had been changed. Mhangazo, a Tanzanian national, was instead charged with contravening the National Environmental Management Protection Areas act by lighting an open fire, without proper authority.
“The accused could not be linked to arson. He was granted bail and bail was set at R500.”
Ntabazalila said the case has been postponed to June 18, 2021, for further investigation.
Mhangazo was homeless at the time of his arrest.
Previously police spokesperson Andrè Traut confirmed his arrest on Sunday night at around 8.10pm in Philip Kgosana Drive, by law enforcement officers, and charged with arson.
Six University of Cape Town (UCT) buildings sustained significant structural damage and a number of other buildings and facilities sustained minor damages.
In a written statement providing an update on the fire damage, vice-chancellor Professor Mamokgethi Phakeng said, “UCT is at present co-operating with its insurers, whose investigations into the events and consequences of the fire on April 18, are at an early stage and remain ongoing. We are also conducting a full occupational health and safety audit that is a statutory responsibility.”
Additionally, Phakeng said the university would also undertake its own investigation, based on legal advice obtained.
“This will be concluded in due course and will be considered by Council. South African National Parks (SANParks), as our direct neighbour, and the City of Cape Town have also launched separate investigations. We will work closely with them in this regard,” said Phakeng.
The SANParks said the findings of its investigation will only be available once finalised.