Western Cape police are investigating arson as the possible cause of a fire that devastated the village of Wupperthal. Dozens of homes and other structures were gutted on Sunday as a blaze tore through the community. Picture: Henk Kruger/African News Agency (ANA)
Cape Town - The police are investigating a case of arson in relation to the devastating fire in Wupperthal near Clanwilliam that destroyed nearly 50 buildings, leaving about 200 people destitute.

“A case of arson has been registered and it’s currently under investigation,” police spokesperson FC van Wyk said.

The blaze, which broke out on Sunday, gutted the Wupperthal Moravian Mission Station, the local clinic, school and town hall.

Since then, emergency services from the Western Cape Department of Health have been working around the clock to assist victims and have been placed on standby where required.

Cederberg mayor William Farmer said: “We have started erecting structures in the area. Our main focus is erecting structures at the school hostels, because school is starting soon.”

He added that the water supply to the area had been fully restored, but they were still waiting for the electricity to be turned back on.

“It was perhaps the most heartbreaking scene for elderly residents who’ve been living in the area for years to see homes burnt to the ground.”

There had been serious allegations thrown around about the cause of the fire, Farmer said.

“There are a lot of people saying something about this; some are saying it was an Eskom line while others are saying it was someone smoking in the bushes.”

Disaster and relief organisation Gift of the Givers has stepped in to assist. “Since the article (published in the Cape Argus) of Wupperthal residents in need of help, my phone has been ringing every half an hour.

“Many people are coming forward willing to donate something to the residents,” Gift of the Givers Western Cape project manager Ali Sablay said.

Former mayor and leader of Good, Patricia de Lille, said: “We appeal to all citizens to provide any support or donations of clothes, tents, food and other basic supplies for the community to the Red Cross Society, who are assisting.

“GOOD thanks and acknowledges the assistance from neighbouring towns and municipalities of Clanwilliam, Piketberg, Vredenburg, Malmesbury (Swartland), Cederberg, Matzikama and Berg River and their attempts to bring the fire under control.”

If you would like to assist with donations, contact Gift of the Givers on 0826514195.

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Cape Argus