A 35-year-old man accused of starting a fire on the slopes of Table Mountain has appeared in court on Tuesday, April 20.
Frederick Mhangazo was arrested on Sunday and was accused of starting a new fire during the existing blaze.
According to News24, Mhangazo was represented pro bono by private lawyer, Shaun Balram.
“His voice was shaky when he gave Balram answers to questions being raised during his first appearance,” the report said.
The matter was postponed to April 28.
Balram said his client maintained that he was being wrongfully accused.
IOL on Tuesday gave a detailed account of how a Devil’s Peak resident, Yazeed Evans, helped catch a man he saw allegedly starting fires on the mountain on Sunday evening.
The suspect was arrested on Sunday night, hours after the initial blaze (which was believed to have been started by a vagrant) broke out.
The report quoted Evans as saying he and his family were having a meal while watching the fire burn towards the top of the Table Mountain on Sunday.
Suddenly, they saw another blaze, closer to their home spark.
‘I told him to stop’
“We were watching the fire right up the top of the mountain, it was quite far from us and all of a sudden my wife saw another big fire that started near our house. We went out onto the deck and saw how a fire just started. It was unusual, and we then noticed another fire starting and we saw three people in front of the fire.”
“Other neighbours were also screaming at them, so I decided to try and stop them and by the time I got ready they already started the fire.”
Evans said he, his son and two dogs, ran towards the fire.
“I then found a man who was around two metres away from the fire. I told him to stop, I only had a torch with me. I called the police and the security guard came up and we escorted him down to the police near the road. He was arrested,” said Evans.
EWN reported on Monday that when the law enforcement officials questioned the suspect, he initially said he was trying to stop the fire and then said that he had started it.
‘I started the fire’
“It won’t be clear until all the documentation, all the investigation, all the witness statements are in. When the officer asked him, he said ‘but I started the fire’ and the officer then asked him if he meant the original fire. He may have accidentally let the fire get out of his control from cooking or otherwise. This will have to now be a criminal investigation and there is going to be substantial consequences for him,” the City of Cape Town’s JP Smith was quoted as saying.