News / South Africa

Ilse de Lange
2 minute read
21 Apr 2017
6:11 am

Police minister ordered to cough up R1m for runaway veld fire

Ilse de Lange

This after a fire raged out of control at the Thabazimbi training institute, affecting 14 neighbouring farms.

Photo: Supplied

The South African government and police minister must pay more than R1 million to a Limpopo farmer who suffered severe damages in a runaway veld fire which started at the police training institute at Verdrag, in Limpopo, eight years ago.

A settlement between the government, the minister and Inniesak Beleggings CC, which rented a farm near the Thabazimbi training institute, was this week confirmed as a court order in the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria.

Inniesak, which conducted mixed farming activities, suffered damages to fencing, the water reticulation system, a rondavel and fodder.

The reproduction of their cattle, sheep and game were also affected by the fire.

Judge Johan Louw ruled in 2013 that the government and police had negligently failed to do everything in their power to stop the spread of the fire, which started at the institute in August 2008 while students of the National Intervention Unit were busy with a shooting exercise.

They tried to stop the fire with six small indoor fire extinguishers, but it soon started spreading rapidly to 14 neighbouring farms and raged out of control for several days before it was finally extinguished.

The judge ruled that the government and police minister should compensate neighbouring farmers and Mr AA Röntgen, who suffered serious burns.

A full bench of the high court later dismissed government’s appeal against the ruling that it was liable for the damages caused by the fire.

The court last month ordered government and the minister to pay more than R3.7 million to one of the neighbouring farmers, Johan Coenraad Weilbach, for the damages he suffered.

Weilbach had to replace 81km of fencing, two tobacco stores, a rondavel and two garages.

The fire also destroyed an electrical system, his pecan trees, maize crop and grazing.

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