Thanking those that kept us safe

06 May 2021 | Story Nadja Daehnke. Photo Nadja Daehnke. Read time 2 min.
Firefighting heroes worked tirelessly to douse the fire that raged on Table Mountain and on UCT’s upper campus.
Firefighting heroes worked tirelessly to douse the fire that raged on Table Mountain and on UCT’s upper campus.

On a lazy Sunday I was planning a picnic with my husband; the Curator of the Collection, Kathy, was enjoying her day off; an art-moving contractor, Phillip, was making Breyani for his family, whilst Andre, another art moving contractor, was busy with is customary Sunday braai. Little did the four of us know that these plans would be interrupted by fire!

Picnic basket in boot, car rolling in the direction of the beach, I looked to Rosebank and saw massive smoke right there where our university – and the UCT Irma Stern Museum – stand. A call to Bernard Soules confirmed the rising panic – yes, we had to start thinking of evacuating the cultural heritage that is housed in the museum.

A mad rush through the traffic to the museum was followed by wielding hosepipes to douse the flames – by now across the road from the museum – with Phillip and Andre standing with art-moving equipment at the ready, waiting for the word to start emptying the museum. Luckily our firefighting heroes with two massive fire trucks managed to contain the blaze. They were not the only heroes though, as CPS joined them that afternoon and throughout the night to make sure that there was no flare-up. Indeed, at 5.45am the next morning a tree started smouldering again, but thanks to additional fast action by CPS and a neighbour, this too was quickly extinguished.

In the rush I did not get to know the names of all the CPS officers and firefighters (though I do remember a very efficient Mr Hendricks and Kassiem), but the ISM team wants all CPS, all firefighters, all contractors involved to know how grateful we were that you saved the UCT Irma Stern Museum from the flames.

Massive thank you also to Bernard Soules for his level-headed advice, and to Team ISM (especially Kathy Wheeler and Aldane Daniels) for being there during the ordeal, and for the ash-sweeping afterwards!

Nadja Daehnke

Director, UCT Irma Stern Museum

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