Members of Working on Fire battling the Cape Town mountain fire. Photo: WOF/Limakatso Khalianyane
Members of Working on Fire battling the Cape Town mountain fire. Photo: WOF/Limakatso Khalianyane

Man accused of starting one of Table Mountain fires granted bail

By Robin-Lee Francke Time of article published Apr 28, 2021

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Cape Town - The man alleged to have started one of the mountain fires in Cape Town, which firefighters battled for more than three days, was granted bail in the Cape Town Magistrate’s Court on Wednesday.

The charge against Frederick Mhangazo, 35, was changed from arson to lighting or causing an open fire without proper authority.

If convicted, Mhangazo could be imprisoned for five years or be fined for his actions, or both if so ordered by the court.

According to National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) spokesperson Eric Ntabazalila, Mhangazo’s charge of arson was changed as he could not be linked to that crime. Ntabazalila confirmed that Mhangazo was granted bail of R500.

“His (Mhangazo’s) case was postponed until June 18, 2021, for further investigation,” Ntabazalila said.

Mhangazo was arrested on Sunday, April 18, 2020, at about 8.10pm, hours after the fire on the Cape Town mountain was under way.

At the time of his arrest, Mhangazo had allegedly been spotted starting the fire along with two accomplices by a member of the local neighbourhood watch, who immediately alerted the authorities.

At the time of his arrest, provincial police spokesperson Colonel André Traut said Mhangazo was apprehended by members of the City of Cape Town’s Law Enforcement along Philip Kgosana Drive. His accomplices managed to evade arrest.

The fire wreaked havoc as it spread to three different locations on the mountain, and hundreds of firefighters work tirelessly to contain the blaze.

Thousands of students had to be evacuated from University of Cape Town residences as the flames spread to the campus.

The fire destroyed a large part of the cultural landscape of the Rhodes Estate, the historic Tea Room next to the Rhodes Memorial, several buildings on the main campus – including the Jagger Library, which held an internationally significant collection of historic archival documents and books – as well as the Fuller Hall residence.

An investigation is under way to determine the cause of the initial fire.

African News Agency (ANA)

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