Cape Town – Arguments in the bail application for alleged Betty’s Bay arsonist, Sheldon April, will be heard on Friday at the Caledon Magistrates Court.
April, 34, is facing a charge under the Natural Environment Act which carries a fine of R10 million or imprisonment of not more than ten years or both. The second charge is under the Veld and Forest t Act which also carries a heavy sentence. The State is opposing bail.
April is believed to have started the fire by setting off a flare which ignited vegetation in the Overberg District which quickly spread out of control.
According to the City of Cape Town, the fire damaged the entire picnic area and the infrastructure at the park was completely destroyed.
Koggelsbaai resort was evacuated to ensure the safety of all those camping as the fire descended from above Blousteen Peak.
National Prosecution Authority (NPA) regional spokesperson, Eric Ntabazalilaas a result of the fire caused by the flare, 41 houses were destroyed, 28 were damaged and a 71-year-old man is in an induced coma after he suffered 71% burns. He is still in hospital.”
He said an eye witness, Heinrich Adonis, is alleged to have seen April firing two flares.
According to Adonis the second flare was blown by the wind towards the mountain and is the one that caused the big fire.
“The State also has or is in the process of containing statements and reports from experts which also outline the damage caused to 12800 hectares of faunà and flora that were destroyed. It also resulted in the electricity to be off for two week and many animals suffered as a result,” said Ntabazalila.
The court heard that April has five previous convictions which include two of drug possession, one of common assault, domestic violence and resisting arrest.
Ntabazalila said April also had two previous warrants of arrest issued against him after he failed to appear in court after he was granted bail.
He has about four cases of assault which were either mediated or withdrawn. The complainants in all four cases indicated that they were afraid of him as he has threatened to kill him. These complainants included his sister who was present in court,” said Ntabazalila.
The Magistrate may also decide to give on the bail application on Friday.