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Minister Edna Molewa commends firefighters for saving lives and property in the Western Cape

21 November 2016


The Minister of Environmental Affairs, Dr Edna Molewa has commended the Working on Fire (WoF) firefighters for saving lives and protecting the environment.

“These young men and women who are all well trained to fight wildland fires, are a clear example of the success of the Departments’ Working for programmes in training our youth, to not only help save lives but also to make an invaluable contribution in protecting our environment, said Dr Edna Molewa, Minister of Environmental Affairs.

WoF, the Department of Environmental Affairs’ (DEA) programme aimed at helping fight wildland fires, has sent an additional 100 firefighters to help the Cape Winelands District Municipality and CapeNature in an ongoing effort to contain the Banhoek Fire in Jonkershoek, near Stellenbosch.

The additional firefighters were expected to arrive at the Banhoek Fire Incident Command Centre on Tuesday afternoon.

The Western Cape has experienced an early start to its 2016 Summer Fire Season, and within 24 hours, teams from across the province had battled 3 fires which raged in the Table Mountain National Park and in the Southern Cape.

In these fires Working on Fire provided just over 100 firefighters (four teams), one spotter plane, one water bomber and one helicopter to fire authorities.

The current Banhoek Fire started on Saturday evening and Working on Fire provided ground and aerial resources to fire authorities.

Working on Fire is one of the various Working for programmes that the Department of Environmental Affairs implements as part of the Expanded Public Works Programme of government.

These programmes are about developing the skills of young men and women in various disciplines like drivers, brush cutters, dispatchers, helicopter safety leaders and environmental education.

Many of these young men and women have used these skills as a stepping stone into the formal job market.  These young men and women are being recruited from the marginalised communities.

In the Western Cape, Working on Fire has close to 800 firefighters stationed at 28 bases throughout the province and in addition has available an aviation component made up of seven spotter planes, seven helicopters and four water bombers.

From May 2016 to October 2016, ground and aerial support were instrumental in the suppression of 29 fires and limit the areas burnt to just below an astounding 51 230 hectares throughout the Western Cape.

We would like to wish our Working on Fire participants a safe Summer Fire Season in the Western Cape and extend our gratitude and thanks for the great work they are doing.

For media inquiries contact: 

Zolile Nqayi
Cell: 082 898 6483