Council guilty of fire damage

Alfred Moselakgomo

Alfred Moselakgomo

A Mpumalanga local municipality will have to fork out R80000 in compensation after fire, which broke out on its property, caused extensive damage to a private timber plantation.

The Belfast magistrates' court yesterday found Emakhazeni Municipality guilty of negligence for failing to build firebreaks around its land.

In August 2005, Plasterion company, which owns the plantation in Dullstroom, sued the municipality in a civil action for the damage to its planation.

Investigations by the Working on Fire Programme confirmed that the fire started from the council's land before spreading to the nearby timber plantation.

Property worth more than R80000 is said to have been damaged by the fire.

The court found the municipality guilty of contravening the Veld and Fire Act, which compels land owners to build and maintain firebreaks around their properties.

But Linkie Mohlala, municipal mayor, yesterday said the municipality had already paid Plasterion.

The Working on Fire Programme is government funded and deals with integrated fire management and veld fire fighting.