Woman arrested for Bonteheuwel fire

The aftermath of the fire in Prunus Street.

Fires ripped through two backyard dwellings in two separate incidents in Bonteheuwel last week, displacing eight people.

A 19-year-old woman has been arrested for allegedly causing the first fire, which took place on Monday July 10 at a backyard dwelling in Prunus Street, just after 2am, resulting in two wendy houses burning down.

Stanley Timm, 50, and his wife lived in one of the wendy houses, and the woman who was arrested, lived in the other with her mother.

Mr Timm said that the night before, the daughter and mother had argued and he heard the daughter saying that she would set the house alight and then left. He said that she returned at about 12.40am and set the wendy house on fire.

“My wife heard people shouting and saw the flames. She then told me that the wendy house was on fire. We tried to put it out with water but the flames were too high and the fire spread to our house. We couldn’t get anything out of the house. The fire was huge,” he said.

He said that he was amazed at the amount of community members who came out to help them at that time of the morning. “By the time the fire brigade came the houses were down completely. Everything burnt to the ground, everything was still in there,” he said.

Mr Timm said the mother of the woman who allegedly set the wendy house alight reported it to Bishop Lavis police who arrested the woman the following day.

Bishop Lavis SAPS’ Brigadier Christopher Jones said a case of arson was being investigated.

Mr Timm said: “We just want to thank the people who came out and helped us and we are appealing for donations because we have to start over again.”

The City of Cape Town’s Fire and Rescue Service spokesperson, Theo Layne, said the cause of the fire remained undetermined.

The second fire happened at a backyard dwelling in Assegaai Avenue, on the same day, at about 10.30am.

Resident Yusuf Hanekom, 49, and his girlfriend were among the four people displaced by the fire.

Mr Hanekom said he had been standing in the road when his niece went to the wendy house and saw the fire when she opened the door.

“There is no electricity. I don’t understand what happened.,” he said.

“The candle was put out the night before already. I couldn’t save anything. My nephew and I wanted to run in to try and save things but the fire was too big,” he said.

Mr Layne said it had been established that the fire was caused by children playing with either matches or a lighter.

Mr Hanekom said he lost his TV, his bed, cupboards, the stove, and all his personal belongings in the fire.

The City provided starter kits to both families to rebuild their dwellings.

Ebrahim Smith, disaster co-ordinator for the Mustadafin Foundation, said that humanitarian relief in the form of blankets, vanity packs, and food parcels had been provided to the affected families.