Winelands fire continues to threaten correctional facility

Firefighters were dispatched to the Brandvlei Correctional Facility grounds where a fire damaged at least one corrugated structure.Picture: Ayanda Ndamane/Independent Newspapers

Firefighters were dispatched to the Brandvlei Correctional Facility grounds where a fire damaged at least one corrugated structure.Picture: Ayanda Ndamane/Independent Newspapers

Published Feb 7, 2024


Multiple continued to rage on in the Cape Winelands District Municipality (CWDM) on Tuesday and had again spread to the Brandvlei Correctional Facility grounds.

CWDM spokesperson Anesca Roodt said the fire line again moved down the mountain and reached the prison grounds on Tuesday afternoon.

Roodt said: “Fire Services have confirmed that the active fire line, previously higher up in the Brandvlei mountain (on Tuesday) morning, descended and (was) burning on the grounds of Brandvlei Prison. Supported by the Breede Valley Municipality Fire Services, they are employing recognised firefighting techniques to redirect the fire's path. There have been no further reports of structural losses, and adequate resources have been deployed to ensure ongoing structure protection throughout the night.”

As a precaution after the fire was reported on Monday, the Department of Correctional Services (DCS) effected the evacuation of 394 offenders from the Medium B, Youth Centre and some from Maximum Centres to neighbouring correctional facilities.

Minister of Justice and Correctional Services, Ronald Lamola, visited the correctional facility on Tuesday morning where a corrugated structure at the agricultural stores section of the facility suffered damage.

“The most pressing risk at the centre was smoke inhalation by inmates...The fire caused damage to the grazing areas for livestock, as well as some parts of the agricultural stores. The logistics store was also damaged to the ground but there was no damage to the centres where inmates are incarcerated,” said his spokesperson Chrispin Phiri.

The Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union (Popcru) spokesperson, Pat Ralaone, said they were happy with the logistics of getting inmates moved between facilities.

Meanwhile, at Matroosberg, Roodt said the active fire line on the De Doorns side continued to burn out of control. Firefighting efforts were expected to persist throughout the night.

Mop up and monitoring operations had commenced at Lakenvlei in Ceres, and Gawie se Water in Bainskloof after the fires were successfully contained.

“Two firefighting vehicles with crews are stationed at Baviaanshoek, monitoring the fire line for structure protection,” said Roodt.

Agriculture MEC Ivan Meyer urged the agricultural sector to follow guidelines to minimise the impact of heat and fires and take the necessary measures to protect lives, livestock, crops and agricultural infrastructure.

Firefighters were dispatched to the Brandvlei Correctional Facility, where a fire damaged at least one corrugated structure. Picture: Ayanda Ndamane/Independent Newspapers

“My first concern is for agri-workers, producers and farmers who are daily exposed to harsh climatic conditions. Climate change is having a dramatic impact on our weather patterns and in extreme conditions poses a threat to the lives of our agri-workers and producers,” said Meyer.

Director for the Sustainable Resource Use and Management with the Western Cape Department of Agriculture (WCDoA), Ashia Petersen said during high fire seasons, the establishment of fire control committees is essential and open-air fires are strictly prohibited.

“In general, an alarm system, firefighting teams and plans must be prepared in advance to mitigate the impact of a wildfire. It is extremely important to know the contact details of the closest fire/emergency response unit,” said Petersen.

Cape Times