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Suspected Fish Hoek arsonist released by police over lack of evidence

Suspected Fish Hoek arsonist released by police over lack of evidence
Four houses were destroyed by a raging fire that swept across Fish Hoek, below Elsies Peak, on Sunday. (Photos: Steve Kretzmann)

Insufficient evidence against man accused of starting devastating fire that destroyed four houses.

The 28-year-old man arrested and charged with deliberately starting a fire in Fish Hoek that destroyed four houses and severely damaged at least four more on Sunday, was released on Wednesday. This is because the police did not have sufficient evidence to bring the case to court.

Fanned by gale-force southeast winds, the fire which started around midday, raced through the residential area on the slope between Main Road and Echo Road in Sunny Cove, Fish Hoek.

Read more in Daily Maverick: A 28-year-old man arrested after devastating Fish Hoek fire

The following day, provincial police spokesperson Malcolm Pojie said a 28-year-old man “found in the vicinity of the fire” had been arrested and charged with arson.

He was to appear in the Simon’s Town Magistrates’ Court on 9 April. On Wednesday, 10 April Pojie provided an update, stating that the suspect had been released as the case was not enrolled at court due to “insufficient evidence at this stage”.

“The investigation continues,” he said.

Fire Service spokesperson Jermaine Carelse said more than 20 “firefighting resources” had attended the scene after being alerted “just after midday”. Carelse said firefighters concentrated on saving property. However, the extensive damage to formal houses is estimated to cost millions of rands.

Residents, writing to GroundUp since the fire, have praised the firefighters for their efforts.

Fish Hoek blaze

This is the area above the Main Road where the fire started. (Photo: Steve Kretzmann)

When we visited the scene on 8 April, it was clear the fire had started just above the Main Road where stairs are set into the embankment. Despite rain throughout the previous night, there were still smouldering embers and firefighters on site monitoring the situation.

Residents whose houses had been destroyed were picking through the debris while some of those whose houses were damaged already had contractors on site assessing repairs. DM

First published by GroundUp.


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