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Veld fire devastates farming community

2021-08-09  Loide Jason

Veld fire devastates farming community
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The veld fire that started on Tuesday in the Windhoek Rural constituency and damaged grazing and infrastructure on 30 farms is still raging, and was heading to the Dordabis settlement yesterday. 

Another smaller fire near Dordabis caused the death of a 63-year-old man on Friday.

When New Era visited the scene on Friday, we found firefighters from the community hard at work trying to control the fire by blocking it from entering the field near a school as well as from crossing over to unaffected areas.

“The aim here is just to stop the spread of the fire to vulnerable areas such as schools and households. The fire is out of control because of the strong wind, and the damage is massive. We do not know what to do,” said a dejected Grandworth Vries.

By Friday, more than 30 farms, including Hamis, Opdam, Karib, Bloukrans, Witkoppies, Dordabis, Audabib, Lang Been and Swartkoppies had been affected by the fire, with major damage to infrastructure, grazing and properties.

Since grazing has been lost, animals have been kept in kraals without feed since last week.

According to Magreth de Bruyn, 10 sheep, eight goats and 10 cattle have been killed in the fire that started on the Farm Hamis in the Dordabis area east of Windhoek on Monday.

“The widespread fire has destroyed livestock and game, based on the information on our community WhatsApp group. It is a big loss for us. Now, the fire has reached Groot Aub”, she stated.

Other farmers are still counting the cost of the damage.

Khomas police commander Ismael Basson, who was accompanied by other officers, joined the community to fight the massive fire.

“I came to fight the fire. We have successfully controlled the fire at Hamis and Bloukrans, but it is still spreading to other farms, which is a battle. For now, there has been no case opened and no arrest made because the aim is first to bring it under control,” he said.

 Lizzette Muhenje, the acting principal at Bloukrans Primary School, said lessons were suspended on Friday and parents contacted to pick up their children.

“We have informed our regional education office about the incident, and they have given a directive that we must inform the parents to come fetch the children for safety purposes,” she noted.

The children were calm and understood the impact of the fire, and were well-contained inside the school yard.

“As you can see, all children are calm. They are not panicking. That is good news to us because most of the parents have indicated that they will not make it to come get the children because they do not have money,” she added.

There are 229 learners at the school from Grades 1 to 7, of whom 103 were at school on Friday with 11 staff members.

Good Samaritans were donating food, drinks and snacks to the fire-fighters.

The Namibia Agricultural Union (NAU) requested institutions an individuals who can assist to support with financial contributions to the Dare to Care Disaster Fund so that it could help alleviate the farmers’ losses.

The purpose of the fund encompasses assistance to farmers, farmworkers and other people who have been injured or lost their lives due to veld fires with medical expenses, pathological services, ambulance services and funeral expenses.

“The Dare to Care Disaster Fund is totally dependent on financial support. As there is already a great need for fire-related support, the NAU is requesting institutions and individuals who can assist to support with financial contributions to the fund,” said NAU president Piet Gouws.

Meanwhile, Khomas governor Laura McLeod-Katjirua said her office is hard at work to make sure the fire is extinguished as soon as possible. Last week, she called in the help of the army to help fight the fire.

An emergency unit of the army as well as firefighters from the City of Windhoek were helping farmworkers and volunteers from the area to fight the fire. 

In an unrelated fire at Dordabis, a 63-year-old man was found burned to death. According to community members, the man was on his way home, and was dropped off near the road to go home.

“I saw him in the morning at Dordabis, where he went to collect his social grant. We suspect he was intoxicated and passed out and burned,” a community member explained.

Commissioner Basson said they suspect he passed out while smoking, and burned to death.

“All the money he was carrying burned out completely, and he was also found with a packet of cigarettes on his body that also burned,” he continued. 




2021-08-09  Loide Jason

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