48-year-old man arrested after major fire ravages South African parliament

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This is the second fire in the Parliament Buildings since last year. (To file)

Johannesburg:

An unnamed 48-year-old man has been arrested on charges of theft and arson after part of the South African Parliament building in Cape Town was destroyed on Sunday.

Cape Town city officials said the building’s third floor and roof collapsed completely as firefighters at six stations across the city fought for hours until they managed to contain the fire in the late afternoon. They responded within six minutes of reporting the fire at around six in the morning.

The Minister of Public Works and Infrastructures, Patricia De Lille, confirmed Sunday during a press briefing that the case had been transmitted to the Directorate of Priority Crime Investigations (DPCI), commonly known as the Hawks.

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Hawks spokesman Brig Nomthandazo Mbambo said the man entered through a back window after jumping over a fence.

“He was found with items that were allegedly stolen from inside the parliament,” Mbambo told ENCA news channel, adding that although he was not a member of parliament, he revealed during the interview. interrogation he had problems which had led to him committing the alleged acts.

President Cyril Ramaphosa also gave a press briefing earlier in the day after he was not allowed to approach the building due to security concerns.

“This is a key national asset and we will be looking at what caused the fire. How (it) started in the old Assembly and then transferred to the National Assembly is something that will always be the subject of investigation, ”Ramaphosa said.

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“We need to dig a little deeper into how this type of event can take place and what steps we will need to take in the future,” Ramaphosa added as opposition parties called for heads raised amid reports according to them. which the fire sprinkler systems had not been operational. .

De Lille said someone had closed a valve supplying water to the system.

“The report I received is that there was (previously) a fire drill, which is standard maintenance to test if the sprinklers are working and everything is in order. What was discovered this morning, c ‘is that someone had closed one of the valves and therefore there was no water to trigger this automatic sprinkler system, “said De Lille.

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De Lille said another briefing will be held on Monday so Parliament can take stock of the actual damage caused by the fire.

With the annual State of the Nation Address of Ramaphosa scheduled for next week, officials said moving it to another building will be considered. They also said it could take place virtually or in a hybrid form, as it did during the COVID-19 lockdown last year.

It was the second fire in the Parliament Buildings since last year, prompting MPs to express concern for their safety and the possibility that important documents may have been destroyed in the fire.

(Except for the title, this story was not edited by UK Time News staff and is posted Platforms.)

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