Cape Town - There are doubts whether the man arrested in connection with the Table Mountain fire was responsible for the blaze that ravaged about 650 hectares and damaged several buildings last week.
Two independent investigations are under way into the fire that started on the slopes of Table Mountain on April 18, according to Forestry, Fisheries and Environment Minister Barbara Creecy.
Creecy visited the Working on Fire Newlands base on Saturday for a briefing by South African National Parks and to assess the overall damage. Creecy also took the opportunity to thank firefighters for their efforts in extinguishing the blaze.
Creecy said the department has commissioned an investigation.
“We expect to get that report in two weeks. The second report is commissioned by the University of Cape Town, and it is going to be looking at the same issues and also working with UCT insurers.”
Frederick Mhangazo, 35, was arrested on Saturday night and charged with arson after caught by Vredehoek residents starting a fire. His case has been postponed to April 28 for bail information.
The primary fire, which caused much destruction, was only reported at 8.45am on Sunday, above Philip Kgosana Drive/Hospital Bend.
“It’s in very different locations, and what they indicated to me was the secondary fire was put out and was started in a completely different place, but nowhere near Hospital Bend.”
The Table Mountain National Park (TMNP) said certain areas previously closed off would be reopened to the public.
TMNP Park manager Frans van Rooyen said permitted recreational activities, , including hiking and dog walking, in the reopened areas will continue as before.
Re-opened paths include Newlands Forest, Devil’s Peak towards Platteklip footpath, Molteno jeep track towards Kloofnek, Atlantic Seaboard (Camps Bay, Kasteelspoort), Constantia Nek, Lion’s Head, Signal Hill and Cecilia Forest.
Some areas will remain cordoned off to the general public, for rangers to resume with rehabilitation work, including tree cutting and footpath maintenance, said Van Rooyen.
These areas include: Devil’s Peak slopes, Deer Park, Rhodes Memorial, King’s Blockhouse, Devil’s Peak contour footpath, Newlands ravine, Newlands contour path, Woodstock cave, Tafelberg Road beyond the chain, Deadman’s tree, Bridle Road intersection, Platteklip, Washhouses boardwalk, Rocklands access point, Newlands picnic site, Murray & Stewart quarry (Old Quarry), Mostert’s Mill (Mowbray footbridge) and Old Zoo.