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Land, corruption, racism, xenophobia, failing institutions ... are all said to be at the root of SA’s problems. And all have arguably been underscored by a particular element of fear: fire.

As the flames from parliament licked high on January 2, the country’s problems were illuminated for all to see. But fire has played a part throughout SA’s history, from the scorched-earth policies of the colonial period right through to the terror of accidental shack fires in the townships — themselves a legacy of apartheid’s spatial planning policies.  ..

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