by Cllr. Johan Matthee – DA Caucus Chairperson in the Umsobomvu Local Municipality
Date: 11 September 2017
Type: Press Statement
The weekend’s fires in the Colesberg region highlights the urgent need for proper firefighting services to be provided by the Umsobomvu Local Municipality. While the current drought and the strong wind provided ideal conditions for fires, the lack of an adequate response from the municipality worsened the devastating impact of the fires.
As of Monday, preliminary figures indicated that approximately 8 500 hectares of arable land has been burned to the ground. It is through grace alone that no casualties have been reported and our thoughts are with the farmer who is currently in the ICU with severe burn wounds. The main losses are grazing for cattle and fences which need to be replaced. When a similar fire ravaged the area about five years ago, it cost approximately R30 000 per kilometre for the fences to be replaced.
I will be engaging with the municipality in Council to see how we can improve the firefighting services and disaster response.
The Democratic Alliance will also write to the provincial department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development to ask for emergency relief to be rolled out to the affected farmers.
We are incredibly grateful to the residents of Colesberg who came out to assist with the firefighting efforts on the farms.
Cllr. Johan Matthee
DA Caucus Chairperson in the Umsobomvu Local Municipality
082 406 8248