Sergeant Chris Spies & Captain Malcolm Pojie. Photo: Elaine King.
NATIONAL NEWS & VIDEO - Police communication officers for the Garden Route area and Knysna spoke to the Knysna-Plett Herald at 13:45 today, June 9, to give a full update on confirmed deaths as a result of the fire, and crime thus far.
SAPS communication officer for the Southern Cape, Malcolm Pojie and Sergeant Chris Spies confirmed the following deaths:
The first incident was in Elandskraal where the bodies of the Johnson family, Tony Johnston (30), Mandy (28) and their son Michael (seven) was found by members of the the Attaqau K-9 Dog Unit at approximately 11:50 on June 7 approximately 50m from their home after being engulfed in flames.
The second incident was at Narnia Village, Welbedacht, where police found the body of a four-year-old Catherine Matope next to a dam in the area. The little Matope was found at about 09:00 on Thursday, June 8.
The third incident was this morning, Friday, June 9. This fifth death was reported after a volunteer firefighter succumbed to smoke inhalation and severe burns in the George Medi-Clinic.
He was part of a team of volunteers busy with rescue operations between Plettenberg Bay and Knysna.
The body of the deceased was identified as a Bradley Richardson(24), a volunteer fire fighter with the Southern Cape Fire Protection Association from Plettenberg Bay.
The circumstances surrounding these incidents is being investigated.
Police have also opened three separate inquest dockets after these fires claimed the lives of five people in three separate incidents.
A 70-year-old missing lady was was reported as missing from her Bergvallei home near Karatara in the early hours this morning, Friday. She was found unharmed by members of the Tsitsikamma K-9 unit after at a friend's house in Barrington.
Both police spokesman stressed police from afar as Cape have been deployed to help.
“The Knysna police has reinforced deployment to the affected areas in Knysna to assist with operations in search of possible missing or lost and unaccounted relatives of those that has fallen victim to the devastating fires. Forensic and rescue dogs will also be deployed in these areas.
Suspects arrested for theft
Police have arrested seven suspects in connection with housebreaking and the possession of stolen property, but the police stress that wide-spread looting is not happening.
These seven suspects are scheduled to appear in the Knysna magistrates' court after they were found in possession of furniture suspected to be taken from one of the destroyed houses. These suspects between the ages 40 and 68 were arrested on the spot and are detained at Knysna SAPS police holding cells.
While Pojie was the Knysna-Plett Herald offices he must have received at least 10 phone calls from media all over the country wanting to know about the looting.
Pojie kept telling them that no such looting was happening, rather seven suspects have been arrested in connection with with housebreaking and the possession of stolen property. Pojie said that this incorrect information would only cause more panic amongst the community.
Further Investigation reveals that some of the furniture to the value of about R80 000.00 was stolen from a house in Brenton On Sea.
The police want to appeal to any affected families and residents to please call the Knysna SAPS at 044-302 6687 or the 08600 10111.