Cape fire devastation reinforces consequences of defence budget cuts

When the world-renowned Jagger Library at the University of Cape Town (UCT), with its priceless collection of African literature, went up in flames on Sunday, the South African Air Force had only one of its powerful Oryx helicopters available for fire duties. And only for two hours.

To save what possibly could have been saved depended on the water drops performed by four Huey helicopters belonging to Working on Fire (WOF) and more than 200 firefighters on the ground. James Styan, the spokesperson for the Western Cape department of local government, confirmed the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) was approached for aerial assistance on Sunday.

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