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Blaming homeless for fire-starting is discrimination, says former homeless man

11 May 2021 6:42 AM
Tags:
Table Mountain
Fire on Table Mountain

Rehoming Collective's Carlos Mesquita explains why they gave refuge to Table Mountain fire suspect charged with infringing by-law.

Three weeks ago the massive fire on Table Mountain was horrifying Capetonians and made headlines globally.

A resident of Devils Peak Estate described how close the fire was getting to them.

RELATED: Devil's Peak resident explains traumatic ordeal confronting alleged fire-starter

RELATED: 'When the officer asked him he said, but I started the fire' - JP Smith

While witnesses say the man had said he did start a fire, but it wasn't clear which fire he was referring to that day.

The man known as Frederick, was taken into police custody for questioning suspected of starting a fire on Devils Peak on 18 April has been released and he has been given refuge at the Rehoming Collective, a recently-registered NPC.

Refilwe Moloto speaks to board member Carlos Mesquita.

I have said I do not support making fires on the mountain.

Carlos Mesquita, Board Member - Rehoming Collective

Frederick was making a fire to prepare food that day he says.

People were looking for a culprit.

Carlos Mesquita, Board Member - Rehoming Collective

Frederick got caught making that fire.

Carlos Mesquita, Board Member - Rehoming Collective

They reduced the charge to a by-law infringement for starting a fire on the mountain.

Carlos Mesquita, Board Member - Rehoming Collective

He said the Collective decided to provide him with shelter and assist him especially as he was potentially facing a trial.

We did not want him to be homeless.

Carlos Mesquita, Board Member - Rehoming Collective

Small fires broke out again this week on the mountain and social media users took to Facebook pointing fingers at Frederick, says Mesquita.

He points out that residents blaming Frederick was very discriminatory and fire fighters made it clear that Frederick had nothing to do with these latest fires.

Fires are started by people for a number of reasons and it is unfair to assume it is always homeless who are responsible, he notes.

He says a group of previously homeless people has started the Homeless Collective.

We believe the current rehoming of people is not working.

Carlos Mesquita, Board Member - Rehoming Collective

We have come u with a plan and a proposal and...we are going to try and get a 10-year plan to end homelessness in Cape Town.

Carlos Mesquita, Board Member - Rehoming Collective

He says the aim is to rehome people in both an orderly and dignified way.

Listen to the interview below:




11 May 2021 6:42 AM
Tags:
Table Mountain
Fire on Table Mountain

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