The Democratic Alliance (DA) says it has written to Environment Minister, Barbara Creecy, to request an urgent independent investigation into the circumstances leading to the fire on the slopes of Table Mountain.
The fire also caused serious damage to infrastructure at the University of Cape Town (UCT) including the 200-year-old Jagger Library. The library houses invaluable African literature, among other things.
DA Shadow Environment Minister, Dave Bryant, says the investigation must establish whether all firebreaks in the area were properly cut and maintained and whether the threat of high fuel load from old pine trees and debris close to UCT had an impact on the spread of the flames.
Bryant says while the hot weather and high winds certainly played a major role in the fast spread of the fire, there should have been more effective contingency measures in place to prevent its rapid spread.
The City of Cape Town has urged people living on the slope of Table Mountain to evacuate their homes when advised to do so.
Disaster Management is working to control the fire.
Spokesperson Charlotte Powell says, “Evacuate immediately and remember to take chronic medication, identity documents, passport, cash, cell phones, bottled water, non-perishable food, a set of clothing, blankets, and toiletries.”
University of Cape Town students have been evacuated from the campus. The university’s buildings have been damaged by the fire:
The DA has called on Higher Education Minister, Blade Nzimande, to engage National Treasury for additional disaster funds to help UCT recover from the fire.
DA Shadow Minister for Higher Education, Chantal King says the fires were fanned by strong winds.
King says student accommodation at the institution is a concern.
She says restoring the Jagger Library will need additional funds as valuable original source material may have been lost.
The party says UCT will need to source various experts to restore charred documents at the 200-year-old Jagger Library. The party has called on Higher Education Minister, Blade Nzimande, to ask Treasury for more funds to help with the process.
It says some of the material at the library is very valuable and may have not have been digitised when the fires broke out yesterday.
DA Shadow Minister for Higher Education, Chantal King, has welcomed swift action taken by UCT to evacuate students.
King has also applauded the assistance of humanitarian organisations such as Gift of the Givers. She also says rangers and firefighters have gone the extra mile to deliver as always in a crisis.
Residents of Vredehoek have also been evacuated.
Residents’ reactions to the evacuation: