Veld fire relief sought

Veld fire relief sought

17 June 2014

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South Africa — The Alfred Nzodistrict municipality has called for donations and help for Matatiele farmers following the fire that killed four people, left four others injured and destroyed livestock in the area.

A 78-year-old woman and her three grandchildren were killed when a blaze gutted their home in Qhobosheaneng village in Matatiele on Friday afternoon.

The elderly woman was at her house when the fire ravaged her home.

The incident is being investigated by Matatiele police.

In Mzongwana village, also in Matatiele, veld fires destroyed more than 15 homes. Four people were injured and taken to Usher Memorial Hospital in Kokstad.

“They are being treated for injuries. One is seriously injured,” Alfred Nzo municipal spokesperson Ndabuko Masumpa said.

Apart from the tragic deaths, Cedarville farmers lost more than 3000 livestock in veld fires that were still raging in their area yesterday.

More than 15 farms in the area have been destroyed by the fires.

Ben Miles, a 73-year-old farmer from Conmore Farm in Cedarville, is still in disbelief after losing 1000 sheep and more than 100 cattle, and hectares of corn.

“This is the most horrific incident I have ever seen in my farming experiences. It is shocking,” Miles told municipal officials.

Alfred Nzo executive mayor Eunice Diko met with various stakeholders in Matatiele yesterday to determine the kind of support the municipality would render to the farmers and

affected communities.

The municipality has already provided some relief to people whose homes were destroyed.

The people were provided with blankets and food, Diko said.

Masumpa said: “We call upon various organs of the state, private and civil society organisations to assist the affected communities and people.”

Meanwhile, MEC for rural development and agrarian reform Mlibo Qoboshiyane called communities to prevent veld fires.

“June is also our harvest time in the province as all farmers are reaping the fruits of their labour.

“Veld fires are detrimental to farming as they can destroy the farmers’ hard work, their plantations, livestock and infrastructure,” Qoboshiyane said.

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