Throwing cigarette butts out of car windows should constitute attempted arson, Western Cape premier Helen Zille said on Friday.
Presenting her State of the Province address in Cape Town, Zille outlined the threat fires presented to the economy of the Western Cape.
She said 10 years ago, they were dealing with 12 000 fires in one year.
“It was almost an unmanageable number. Now, more than 17 000 fires have already been recorded this fire season,” she said.
A lot of the fires were started by people, she said, whether by accident or ill intent.
She said they would support the authorities in using the full force of the law to deal with alleged arsonists.
Condemning the throwing of cigarette butts out of car windows, she said it merely took a spark on a dry patch of land to lead to an inferno.
She also detailed what the province was doing to deal with the current water shortages.
“A study we have completed indicates provincial water demands will exceed the current supply in 2019.”
With the 3B water restrictions in Cape Town, the latest dam levels were at 34.8%, she said, down from 44% at the same time last year.
Some of the key interventions, she said, included the fast-tracking of the development of the Table Mountain Group Aquifer, the underground water table.
They were working on saving water in government buildings as well, she said.
Zille said they had established a digital means of optimising water usage of the entire agricultural sector.