CAPE TOWN: Arrested following a fire at the South African parliament

CAPE TOWN: Arrested following a fire at the South African parliament

Status: 02.01.2022 9:37 pm

The Parliament House in Cape Town, South Africa was badly damaged in a devastating fire. It is not yet clear how the fire started. One suspect has been arrested.

By Karin Verheim, ARD-Studio Johannesburg

The extinguishing work continued even after the first fire alarm bell rang in the South African Parliament complex. Smoke billowed from a building in Cape Town.

JP Smith, head of the Fire and Rescue Services in Cape Town, said the biggest heat of the fire was the collapse of the roof of the historic building since 1884. A spokesman for parliament said the blaze had destroyed a room in the National Assembly. The extent of the destruction is not yet clear.

Spray system without water?

Rescue workers said they had already been at the site for some time when fire alarms were triggered. The system seems to be delayed. Also, Infrastructure Minister Patricia de Lille said in the evening that the water supply to the sprinkler system had apparently stopped.

One person has been arrested in the Parliament building. Police said it was a 49-year-old man. He was seen on surveillance cameras in the building. With him were things from Parliament. “I can also confirm that the investigation is now being carried out by the special unit responsible for the attacks on government buildings,” De Lille continued. Details have not been released. The arrested person is scheduled to appear in court on Tuesday.

No injuries so far

In the morning a thick black smoke stood over the parliament, and flames came from the roof. Security forces found the fire on the third floor of the oldest part of the building – the offices and the chamber of South Africa, the National Council of Provinces.

So far no one was injured. Parliament was closed for the Christmas holidays. Parliamentary spokesman Moloto Motabo confirmed to SABC television that security personnel in parliament were currently being reduced.

It was not the first fire in Parliament

President Cyril Ramaphosa visited the fire-fighting event at noon. He said the building, which is very important to South African democracy, should be thanked for not being burnt to ashes. Representative Steve Swart said he was very upset to see the flames. The fact that Parliament is on fire is of immense importance to all Members of Parliament and all the people in South Africa. Because here was the dawn of democracy in 1994.

There was already a fire in the Parliament building in Cape Town last March. In April a catastrophic fire broke out on Table Mountain and, among other things, destroyed the university library, which contained valuable historical evidence.

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