Two dead after beachfront arson frenzy

The flat on the first floor of Marine Court in Beach Road after firefighters attended to the fire.

Two people are dead following a bizarre and bloody sequence of events on Fish Hoek’s beachfront on Saturday night.

Fish Hoek police are investigating a case of murder and arson after a 69-year-old woman died following a fire at her Beach Road flat, and they have opened an inquest into the death of the 42-year-old man suspected of starting the fire, says police spokesman Warrant Officer Peter Middleton.

The man, who was known to the woman, died later that night after being taken to False Bay Hospital, said investigating officer Detective Warrant Officer Stoney Steenkamp.

According to Detective Steenkamp, the 42-year-old man allegedly set fire to the woman’s flat on the first floor of Marine Court, at around 7.25pm.

It is alleged that he had locked himself inside the flat and jumped out of the back window after firefighters gained entry to the flat.

Detective Steenkamp said the man had then jumped over an electric fence and headed to The Galley on Fish Hoek Beach.

He entered through a side door and went to the back of the restaurant where he set a tablecloth and some chairs alight with a cigarette lighter.

The restaurant was about to close and no patrons were there when the bloodied man entered.

Manu Choudree, from Mach 1 Security Services, said the man had been shouting incoherently and stabbing himself with a knife when he had arrived at the scene.

He and two police officers had tried to restrain the man as the room had filled with smoke, he said.

“He had superhuman strength and fought us with everything in him. We eventually managed to get some cuffs on him, and even then he grabbed pieces of broken glass from the plates and tried to stab us,” Mr Choudree said.

The man had continued to kick and scream while they were pulling him from the smoke-filled room, Mr Choudree said.

He was taken to False Bay Hospital by Cape Medical Response, according to spokesman Darren Zimmerman.

When the Echo arrived at about 10.30pm, firefighters were still at the scene, and police officers were cordoning off the entrance to The Galley.

And a line of bloody footprints ran all the way from Marine Court to the restaurant’s side entrance.

The Galley co-owner Mathea Eichel said they were still processing the incident and declined to comment further.

Warrant Officer Middleton said autopsies would be done on both the man and the woman to determine their causes of death.

City Fire and Rescue Service spokesman Jermaine Carelse said the fire at Marine Court had been reported at 7.45pm and fire crews from Fish Hoek, Kommetjie and Lakeside had found a man and a woman with burn wounds.

He said the woman had died from her injuries at the scene and was declared dead at 8.35pm.

“The scene was handed over to police at 10.51pm.”

The Galley was closed on Father’s Day, Sunday June 18, for “deep cleaning”, according to Ms Eichel.

Firefighters leaving The Galley on Saturday night June 17 after a man suspected of starting a fire at Marine Court, where a woman died, allegedly also tried to set the restaurant alight.
The entrance to The Galley was cordoned off. Bloodied footprints of the man can be seen on the paving.
A cigarette lighter believed to be the one the man is accused of using to start a fire inside The Galley.
Bloody footprints on the road leading to the entrance of The Galley.