Merebank for Cape Town

Months without any rain in the Cape Town areas have brought many South Africans together to collect water containers for the Cape Town drought affected areas. The President of The Southern African Emergency Services Institute NPC (SAESI), Mr Melvin Ramlall and his family being concerned fellow South African citizens and Melvin also being a Firefighter for more than 30 years at Ethekwini District Municipality, having seen the effects of disaster first hand took the opportunity to launch a campaign in conjunction with a well-known Non-Profit Organisation, Gift of the Givers, to collect water for Cape Town.

Through their efforts many members of the community supported the campaign of which recently retired Major General Bala Naidoo of the SAPS was the very first contributor of water that started off the 5000lt water collected. The campaign started on the 27th of January 2018 and by the 31st of January 2018, 3000lt of sealed water containers had already been contributed across the community where young and old participated.

On the 5th of February 2018 Gift of the Givers did a pick-up at Nadasens Savemore Shop of 5000lt of sealed water containers to deliver to Cape Town.

The Merebank Community is a small community with a big heart and inspiration to others. Through the achievement of this campaign, as such the Community of Merebank and SAESI poses a Challenge to all Brigades within SAESI to do the same.

Let’s collect as much water containers as possible and make a change for the Cape Town Communities that are affected with the drought.Merebank for Cape Town - SAESI

Article by: Lulu Ferreira, SAESI Head Office

Act of God ruled out in #KnysnaFires

The Knysna Municipal Fire Chief, Clinton , Manager, Kam Chetty and Executive Mayor, Eleanore Bouw-Spies presented the cause of the devastating fires that spread through the area on 7 June to various members of the media today, 14 August.

Manuel presented the vast scientific evidence to the media and saying: “Looking at the evidence scientifically, evidence points to the origin of the fire as being on a clearing site in Elandskraal. Specific patterns of the burn scars on a farm, shows a definite V pattern that indicates with a high degree of certainty the site where the fire started. Just below this scar we have found evidence of man-made fire.

Read the full article…

Eight people without a home

SAESI 8 People without a Home

Yesterday 30 March 2017 a house fire broke out in Burgershoop, Krugersdorp West where firefighters did what they do best. It is believed that an electrical failure was the cause of the fire.
Firefighters from the West Rand District Municipality were on the scene to blaze the raging fires and were assisted by the Community Police Forum (CPF) Sector 5.

Big thanks to Tracey from the Cradle of Hope and Bethany House Trust for sponsoring Mr Edward Masendeke and Ms Mary Banda(owners of the house that burned down) and their family with vouchers to stay at the Tower of Life Shelter for the night of the incident as well as the 31st of March. The Community Police Forum (CPF) Sector 5 assisted with transport to get the victims to the Tower of Life Shelter.

The Southern African Emergency Services Institute (SAESI) commends our firefighters for their selfless work and dedication, Stefan Lourens, Schalk Terblanche, Kefiloe Ramphele and Direk Morweng who is a volunteer firefighter at the West Rand District Municipality. The team fought for nearly two hours to save not only the building but what little possessions the family of eight had.

Article by Lulu Ferreira: SAESI

Important Judgment – Potgieter v University of Stellenbosch


This judgment sounds a warning to owners (also municipalities) of pre 1970 built buildings that have not introduced the best practices relating to fire protection introduced by  the National Building Regulations

Potgieter sued the University (US) for damages arising out of permanent injuries he sustained in 2007 when, as a 21 year old student at the Eendrag men’s hostel, he had to escape a fire through the window of his top floor room.

It is common cause that Eendrag had no fire stops (or fire walls), or hose reels, and smoke detectors were only installed in the roof void of pitched roofs. The absence of fire stops in the common roof void of Eendrag posed a real and imminent fire risk to the residents of the top floor

Potgieter claimed that the US –

  • was obliged to ensure that proper and reasonable measures and procedures were in place, and were implemented, for the safety of students in its hostels,
  • was aware of the fire risk
  • failed to introduce adequate precautionary steps, especially in the light of other fires at US buildings in previous years
  • failed and/or neglected to take reasonable and proper cognisance of the development of best building practices
  • failed in numerous respects to implement its own rules in respect of risk management

The US –

  • admitted that it was under a legal duty to take and implement adequate and reasonable safety measures to protect occupants of its hostels from the risk of fire and its consequences
  • alleged that it took such steps and by adopting a risk management policy under the Occupational Health and Safety Act

In the alternative, the US relied on an indemnity clause contained in Potgieter’s enrolment application to exempt it from any liability. It also pleaded contributory negligence on the part of Potgieter.

Statutory framework

At the time Eendrag was built in 1966 building regulations were prescribed by municipal by-laws. Although the later 1970 Standard Building Regulations and the 1987 National Building Regulations prescribed the installation of fire stops in roof voids for buildings such as Eendrag, they did not apply retrospectively. The National Building Regulations however constituted best building practice.

Legal principles

In order to succeed in his claim Potgieter had to show that the US was guilty of conduct (in the form of an omission) which was negligent, wrongful and the cause of the plaintiff’s injuries. At par 18 – 30 the court explains the legal principles against which the relevant evidence had to be assessed.


The US made certain important concessions –

(1)  it would be vicariously liable for negligent acts and/or omissions of those responsible for the implementation of its risk management system at Eendrag;

(2)  after the fire in the roof void and uppermost floor at another hostel in 1983 it reasonably foresaw that such roof fires were a hazard that could lead to loss of life, limb and property; and

(3)  at all relevant times it had the financial resources, or access to such resources, to install fire stops, hose reels and smoke detectors in communal areas below ceiling at Eendrag.

The US also abandoned any reliance on contributory negligence

It was also not in dispute –

  • that given its realisation of the risk, the US took steps towards making Eendrag (and other buildings) safe, to prevent roof fires and to manage risk, by installing smoke detectors in the roof void coupled to an alarm.
  • that the fire was the direct cause of the plaintiff’s injuries.

The central issue for determination was whether or not the steps taken by the defendant in relation to Eendrag were reasonable.

After considering the evidence the court held that Potgieter discharged the onus resting upon him to show that, on a balance of probabilities, the US was negligent.

[146] …… A diligens paterfamilias in the position of the defendant would have foreseen, after the Huis Ten Bosch fire, that its failure to take reasonable steps to guard against a similar occurrence would cause injury to students in its hostels. A diligens paterfamilias in the position of the defendant would also have taken reasonable steps to guard against such an occurrence. The steps taken by the defendant were not reasonable and fell far short of the reasonableness standard, both in relation to the installation of fire safety measures at Eendrag and in the implementation of its own risk management policy, to which it merely paid lip service.

[147] The evidence established that…… the defendant’s failure to take      reasonable steps caused the plaintiff injuries.

[148] The defendant’s conduct was also wrongful

The court also found that there was no merit in this defence based on the indemnity clause.

Potgieter’s claim succeeded.