The mysterious and unregulated veld fires around Komani that have concerned residents in the past weeks have been reported by the Enoch Mgijima Local Municipality (EMLM) to have been caused by “lawless” residents.
The EMLM also confirmed that a power outage that took place in Ezibeleni due to a fallen electricity pole, was due to an unregulated veld fire on Sunday.
A group of local livestock owners have also expressed concern over the fires that were first spotted in the Ezibeleni area about two weeks ago and again in the open veld along the R67 towards Komani last week.
Members of the Mlungisi Farmers’ Association indicated to The Rep that an open veld towards the Roydon Game Reserve where their animals used to graze, had been burnt twice leaving their animals with no grazing land.
The association chairperson Zola Magoqoza indicated the fires destroyed their only grazing land while they were battling to get a safe place for their livestock.
“The land our animals graze on has been burnt on two consecutive Sundays and we found it strange that if was government was doing the burning, why they would burn a camp used for grazing. This also happens during ongoing engagements and unresolved issues with government about the allocation of grazing land for our association. We found ourselves questioning whether the veld was burnt deliberately in relation to our fight for grazing land.”
Magoqoza said he received a call informing him about the burning veld on July 12 which they attended to and reported, asking for it to be put out.
“We also tried our best to put it out, but in the winter the grass is usually dry which made the fire spread quickly almost across the whole area we use. This is especially concerning because one of our members recently had some of his livestock impounded for roaming the streets in town. This is the very reason we want grazing land. This is exactly why animals end up grazing in residential areas – because they roam around looking for greenery.”
Magoqoza said he hoped their quest for a safe environment for their livestock would soon be sorted out so that the problems of animals roaming where they do not belong can be solved.
EMLM spokesperson Lonwabo Kowa said the burning of open veld was not sanctioned by the local authority and posed a health hazard.
“We have noted with concern the escalation of veld fires which have not been sanctioned by the municipality and are causing a number of health and economic problems. The fires are caused by lawless anarchists who have even gone to the lengths of breaking into our landfill site, burning flammable contents.”
Kowa said the cloud of smoke caused by the fires affected residents in their homes could lead to serious illnesses.
“This is an undesirable, unhealthy and unacceptable act by some members of our community and we condemn it. Recently, the Ezibeleni area endured a day without power after an electric pole was burnt and infrastructure damaged due to these uncontrolled veld fires.”