KZN fire deaths: murder?

KZN fire deaths: murder?

5 October 2008

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South Africa — If the veld fires that raged in northern KwaZulu-Natal at the weekend were started deliberately, the culprit could face 32 charges of murder.

The death toll rose overnight when 12 more people died in hospitals in the area.

  • Killer fires allegedly plotted
  • Deadly fires under control

    Allegations that the fires were started deliberately have prompted the department of agriculture and environmental affairs to ask the police to investigate the cause of the blazes.

    Kwanula, a body that represents most of the province’s commercial farmers, said its members claim the fires were set in an attempt to burn out farmers involved in land-claim disputes.

    Police spokesman Superintendent Vincent Mdunge said that if anyone was found to have started the fires deliberately he would face murder charges .

    “The effect has been tremendous. Not only has there been damage to property but loss of human life as well. ”

    The provincial government is assessing the damage in the affected areas. Premier S’bu Ndebele has declared Nkandla, where ANC president Jacob Zuma has his homestead, a disaster area.

    The estimated loss to farmers and the area scarred by the runaway fires has not been established, but the provincial government has said that it could run into many millions of rands

  • In Mpumalanga, a woman was killed when a blaze ravaged her farm at the weekend.

    And in the Amersfoort area, cattle, sheep, horses, goats, and wild animals were killed in the fires. About 36000ha of veld was destroyed.

    In the Free State, 47000ha was burnt and about R45-million of damage caused.

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