A major fire severely damaged the parliament building in Cape Town. The investigation into the cause of the fire is still ongoing. A 51-year-old is being interrogated.
Cape Town – A fire broke out in South Africa’s parliament in the capital Cape Town on Sunday (January 2nd, 2022). More than 70 firefighters have been fighting the blazing flames since the early hours of the morning. The building was badly damaged by the fire, as reported by the German press agency. The flames had “completely burned” the seat of the MPs, said a parliamentary spokesman for the AFP news agency. The fire is still not under control.
The fire is said to have broken out first at the rear of the building complex that houses the old assembly chamber and the National Council of the Provinces. A few hours later, the fire spread to the building of the National Assembly, in which the parliament sits, said Patricia de Lille, the provincial minister for public works and infrastructure. Video footage showed thick black columns of smoke rising from the building.
South Africa: Major fire destroys Parliament in Cape Town – police interrogate 51-year-olds
The roof of the old plenary hall had collapsed, while some walls of the government complex had large cracks, it said. The Parliament building is home to many national artifacts. It is still unclear whether these were also damaged, said a member of the city security committee, JP Smith.
According to the Cape Town ambulance service, there were no injuries. A 51-year-old man was questioned in connection with the fire, police said. The cause of the fire remained unclear on Sunday. Investigations have been initiated.
South Africa: President Cyril Ramaphosa comments on major fire in parliament
President Cyril Ramaphosa spoke of a devastating event. Because the day before the funeral service for the late Anglican Archbishop and world-famous Nobel Peace Prize laureate Desmond Tutu had taken place in Cape Town, Ramaphosa was still in town.
“The archbishop would have been shocked too, because this is a place that he prayed for, that he supported and saw as a refuge for our democracy,” said the president in front of the cameras. The parliament is only a few meters away from St. George’s Cathedral, in whose mausoleum Tutu’s ashes were buried on Sunday morning. (acg with dpa)
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