Public deserves truth about the cause of the Knysna fires

7 June 2019 will see the second anniversary of the Knysna fires, which caused great devastation – including loss of life – in Knysna and surrounding areas.

Directly after the fire, AfriForum requested the approval of Helen Zille, then Premier of the Western Cape, to investigate the fires independently. The request was approved and AfriForum approached the forensic scientist Dr David Klatzow to investigate all the fires – specifically the fire in Elandskraal.

The Klatzow Report on the Elandskraal fire and a report compiled by Clinton Manuel, former Head of the Knysna Municipality Fire Brigade, were contradictory in terms of the source and cause of the fire. This caused the CSIR, whose data was used incorrectly and without authorisation by Manuel, to also investigate the fires. The CSIR eventually compiled its own report on the source and cause of the fire, which confirmed the Klatzow Report to be correct and the Manuel Report to be wrong.

According to the Klatzow Report, lightning caused the fire on 12 April 2017, while the Manuel Report attributed it to arson. A Google Earth photo taken on 20 April 2017 and which was included in the Klatzow Report, confirms that the western Knysna fire started on the farm Elandskraal close to the Karatara River. According to the Klatzow Report, the fire smouldered for weeks, after which it spread into fires that started to rage in and around Knysna on 7 June 2017.

“AfriForum will welcome it if the Knysna Municipality distanced itself officially from the Manuel Report, with specific reference to the erroneous indication as to the source and cause of the Elandskraal fire. We trust that the Municipality will also launch an internal inquiry to ascertain why the Knysna and Sedgefield fire brigades decided to ignore the smouldering Elandskraal fire,” says Reint Dykema, Knowledge Manager of AfriForum, who investigated the Knysna fires together with Klatzow on AfriForum’s behalf.

  • Click here to download the complete Klatzow Report on the Knysna fires.
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