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Government blamed for slow fire response

Fire fighters fight a fire at Rhodes Memorial. March 17 2009 Photo by Michael Walker

Fire fighters fight a fire at Rhodes Memorial. March 17 2009 Photo by Michael Walker

Published Nov 21, 2012

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Northern Cape - Government help for Northern Cape farmers and workers fighting veld fires the past week might arrive only on Wednesday, the Volksblad newspaper reported.

The government had reportedly failed to respond to devastating veld fires in the Ghaapse Plato region that had destroyed 100 000 hectares of veld by lunch time on Tuesday. The fires started last week.

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“The farmers are broken, only the Lord can help them now,” Agri Northern Cape chief executive Johan van Rensburg was quoted as saying.

He said the fires were the worst disaster the Northern Cape region had had to face thus far.

Acting Northern Cape premier Griezelda Cjiekella backed calls from farmers for helicopters to help with the fire fighting.

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Farmers criticised government’s lack of interest in their plight.

“One must question what the aim of disaster management departments at municipalities are,” Kobus Gous, chairman of the Koopmansfontein fire protection association said.

“If it was to manage disasters they are not successful.”

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The provincial agriculture department had sent a team to the destroyed areas to decide what to do next. - Sapa

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