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7 possible motives for arsonists to start fires

Cape Town has been ravaged by fierce veld fires in recent weeks, many of which are suspected to be sparked by arson.

Criminologist Annie Hesselink on Thursday explained that there are different types of arsonists.

Arson is very common in South Africa and the majority of arson is anger-driven.

Prof Annie Hesselink, Criminologist, Dept. of Criminology and security science: UNISA

Listen to the full conversation from CapeTalk's Breakfast with Kieno Kammies:

7 possible motives for why arsonists burn things down:

According to Hesselink, these are some of the reasons arsonists start fires.

1. For excitement: Hesselink claims these arsonists seldom intend to harm anyone in the process.

2. For political reasons: In the Apartheid era, arson was used by some struggle activists to make a statement.

3. As an act of vigilantism: Arson can be used as a form of intimidation to typically send a message of social order.

4. To vandalise: This form of vandalism is malicious and often driven by peer-pressure.

5. For profit: These arsonists aim to commit fraud for insurance and financial benefit.

6. In personal vendettas: Arson is often used to settle personal scores or in domestic squabbles.

7. In an attempt to conceal a crime scene: Criminals often commit arson to remove or destroy damning forensic evidence.


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