The South African Police Service is investigating claims that arsonists are deliberately starting fires in the Paarl region of the Western Cape.
This comes in response to messages being circulated on social media, claiming that groups of African National Congress supporters are setting farms and homesteads alight in the fire-prone area.
The same messages claim that police and the army are distancing themselves from the claims for political reasons.
Last week, a devastating fire ravaged the Du Toitskloof Pass region, closing the N1 freeway down for some time.
Meanwhile, other social media users are shooting down the arson claims, calling them lies meant to incite hatred.
Reports coming out that these fires are being deliberately set a light in Paarl, Stellenbosch, Cape Town. Political kak again #Paarlfire— NoemMyDenton™ (@dee_ai89) January 19, 2017
The whatsapp message about "Farm Attacks" taking place in Paarl where people are setting farms alight - Is a HOAX. - IGNORE IT #PaarlFire— Jacques Weber (@jacquesweber) January 18, 2017
“Really, aren't the fires horrible enough without using hoax messages about their origins to fan the fires of hate as well?,” says Facebook user Jaline de Villiers.
The SAPS has heeded the warning nonetheless, dispatching an “experienced detective” to investigate claims of “persons in branded clothing” starting fires.
Police have asked members of the public with any information on the fires to contact their nearest police station.