Landowners urged to be accountable

Landowners urged to beaccountable

28 September 2005

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South Africa — More needs to be done to compel land owners to put in placemeasures to contain fire damage, Water Affairs and Forestry Minister BuyelwaSonjica said on Tuesday.

It was vital that local authorities and land owners combined forces toaddress the risk of wild fires.

“We must plan to live with fire, for it is an inevitable and indeed,necessary part of so many of our natural systems,” she said.

“We cannot simply rely on the Working on Fire partnerships to addresswild fires. We have to look at our preventative measures.”

There was no doubt that where there were the necessary measures in place, thedamage of these inevitable fires could be significantly contained.

Sonjica said that the Fire Danger Rating System was launched earlier thismonth in Cape Town, and would be managed by the South African Weather Services.

“Once the system is fully operative the public will be informed of thefire danger ratings through the media.”

Commenting on the fires that have raged in six provinces in the past fivedays, Sonjica said the Working on Fire Programme had mobilised 29 fire-fightingcrews from seven provinces.

“They fought 85 separate fires over the past five days.”

Sonjica said these 22-person teams were trained into elite fire-fightingforces through the Expanded Public Works Programme, supported by the programme’shelicopters.

The minister offered her condolences to those who have experienced loss oflife, livestock and property due to the fires.

She said she, and Agriculture and Land Affairs minister Thoko Didiza would bevisiting affected areas in KwaZulu-Natal.

According to earlier reports, the fires have killed two people and ravagedlarge areas.

Bonakele Ngema (six) burnt to death in a house where she was trapped by afire in Mntanenkosi reserve, KwaZulu-Natal and in Limpopo a 53-year-old farmerwas killed when his helicopter crashed as he was assessing the blaze.


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