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AfriForum, Dr David Klatzow announce origin of Knysna fires

August 22, 2017 deur Marelie Greeff

The civil rights organisation AfriForum today released a report that sets out the origin as well as the cause of the devastating Knysna fires. The report was drafted by the forensic scientist Dr David Klatzow, who was commissioned by AfriForum to undertake a thorough investigation of these fires in Knysna. The fires in Mossel Bay, Pezula and Plettenberg Bay are also discussed in the report.

Klatzow found among other things that one of the fires was caused by a fire that smouldered for a few weeks after lightning had struck a part of the indigenous forest.

AfriForum has already discussed the findings in the report with Ms Helen Zille, Premier of the Western Cape, at a meeting and furthermore wrote a letter to the Western Cape Government, asking for a commission of inquiry to look into the findings.

Ernst Roets, Deputy CEO of AfriForum, says that the organisation has an interest in this matter, as AfriForum plays a key role as a pressure group in civil society.

“It is important that the truth prevails and that justice is done,” Roets said.

Fires that are discussed in the report include:

  1. The eastern fire in Knysna: Here it is indicated that a fire incidentally started in a forested area known as Dam-se-Bos. Arson is not suspected.
  2. The western fire in Knysna: The fire originated in the Elandskraal area (see graphics attached) and was caused by lightning on 12 April 2017. The fire smouldered for a number of weeks in a portion of the indigenous forest, and weather conditions – including strong winds and hot air – fuelled this fire on 7 June 2017.
  3. The fires in the western part of the Knysna Lagoon which caused damage to Brenton-on-Sea and the area next to Buffels Bay, were a result of the Elandskraal fire.
  4. The fires at Pezula were a result of the fires at Dam-se-Bos and Elandskraal. The Elandskraal fire jumped across the western part of the Knysna Lagoon to Pezula.
  5. The Plettenberg Bay fires: The fires at Dam-se-Bos and Pezula spread to Plettenberg Bay. However, there were also two other fires in the area caused by a tree in a plantation. The tree fell on an Eskom power line and a fire started. Another fire was accidentally started by a resident in an informal settlement.
  6. The Mossel Bay fires: These fires were started on purpose. The police refused to investigate the allegations of arson that were lodged with the local AfriForum branch.
  • Click on the link to download the full report.