Object thrown from car started UCT fire, investigation concludes

The African Studies library at the University of Cape Town was gutted by the fire that started on the mountain slopes above the institution in April.
Image: Bruce Sutherland/City of Cape Town

The mountain fire that ravaged the University of Cape Town in April was probably caused by arsonists who threw or shot something out of a passing car.

That’s the conclusion of an investigative report made public on Thursday by South African National Parks.

CCTV camera footage showed a car moving slowly along the shoulder of a freeway immediately adjoining the area where smoke was first detected on the morning of April 18, the report said.

The car pulled away just minutes before the smoke was reported to response teams.

Though the make and model of the car is known, the footage does not identify its registration number. SANParks is offering a reward for information that could lead to arrests.

“Yes we do believe that an object was thrown from the car,” said lead fire investigator Rob Erasmus, who presented the report at a press briefing at SANParks headquarters in Tokai.

“At this stage we cannot divulge the distance that it was thrown,” he said, adding that the investigation team was experimenting with various objects to see how ignition could have occurred.

“At this stage our conclusion is that the fire was set with intent,” Erasmus said.

by Bobby Jordan

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