A Devil’s Peak resident has described how he 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.
IOL on Tuesday gave a detailed account of how the man, Yazeed Evans, got the alleged arsonist arrested.
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.
Western Cape Premier Alan Winds on Monday praised the police following the suspect’s arrest.
8/9 I was also very pleased to hear that SAPS in the Western Cape have arrested a suspect on a charge of arson in connection with the Table Mountain fires. The suspect was arrested yesterday and is due to appear in court soon.
— Premier Alan Winde (@alanwinde) April 19, 2021
“I was also very pleased to hear that SAPS in the Western Cape have arrested a suspect on a charge of arson in connection with the Table Mountain fires. The suspect was arrested yesterday (Sunday) and is due to appear in court soon.”
The blaze started on Sunday, and as it spread rapidly, thousands of people had to flee their homes.
The fire destroyed several buildings, including a library at the University of Cape Town (UCT), as well as a government minister’s Newland’s home.
It also damaged part of the Rhodes Memorial restaurant and the historic Mostert Mill along the M3. Four firefighters were injured.