Govt slack on fire prevention: Tau SA
Bloemfontein - The government is not adhering to laws aimed at preventing veldfires, farmers' body Tau SA says.
Tau SA deputy president Louis Meintjes said in a statement on Friday that in many cases no preparations had been done by the state on its land before the fire season and firebreaks were absent or ineffective.
The causes of various devastating wildfires across the country this week were still being investigated.
“But from evidence we get it emerges that the government itself does not comply with all requirements for property owners regarding fires."
He said many fires were either started deliberately or occurred through negligence on road reserves under state control. A road reserve is the carriageway and the grass strip on either side.
Only in exceptional cases had road reserves been properly prepared for the fire season.
Meintjes said another major concern was that the state was not involved in fire associations, as prescribed by law.
“The fires of the past week also showed the lack of any, or sufficient disaster management capacity.”
Meintjes said many farmers who had lost everything were expected to continue paying tax to state institutions which did not provide any support or services.
Tau SA said farmers who had suffered severe losses or damage due to state negligence should not hesitate to file claims.
The farming body would be available to help with these matters.
Three people were killed in veldfires in the Free State this week, which destroyed an estimated 117 943ha.
The areas worst affected were Vredefort, where 22 000ha had been lost, Kroonstad 12 000ha, Zastron 10 000ha and Memel 8 000ha.