Cheryl Kahla
Deputy Online News Editor
2 minute read
4 Jan 2022
6:14 am

LIVE UPDATES: Parliament fire finally ‘contained’

Cheryl Kahla

Law enforcement agencies said they will 'leave no stone unturned in establishing the cause of the incident'.

Flags hang half mast in respect for Archbishop Desmond Tutu as a fire rages at the National Assembly building in Parliament on 2 January 2022 in Cape Town. Photo: Gallo Images/Brenton Geach

The fire which has gutted South Africa’s Parliament was finally contained at around 9am on Tuesday, after flames had flared up again earlier in the morning.

The fire was initially contained around midnight, however, wind reignited the embers in the roof of the National Assembly building on Tuesday morning.

Cape Town’s head of fire and rescue services, Jermaine Carelse, was notified shortly after 5am.

Parliament fire: Live updates

Parliament fire: Monday update

During Monday afternoon’s briefing on the parliamentary fire, National Assembly Speaker Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula said if the police find that the fire was started deliberately, it would be considered a threat to the country’s democracy.

She denied that security staff had been told not to report for duty as a cost-saving measure.

The man arrested in connection with the fire will appear in court on Tuesday, 4 January.

The suspect was charged with theft and arson and will also face charges related to the National Key Point Act.

Meanwhile, the presiding officers of Parliament said the fire, which destroyed parts of the bicameral legislature structures on Sunday, “came at a critical time”.

Officials called on South Africans to remain calm and said all efforts will be made to limit disruptions to parliamentary operations.

As such, the upcoming 2022 State of the Nation Address and the Budget Speech will not be affected.

ALSO READ: Be grateful one city works, says Ramaphosa in Parliament fire address

Parliament fire on Sunday

Firefighters fought the blaze throughout the day on Sunday. The fire was eventually contained in the old wing, while firefighters worked to control the fire in the new wing. 

Mapisa-Nqakula commended them for their swift response.

“Had it not been for their prompt response, the damage could have been much worse. They responded within six minutes after they were called and alerted.”

Significant damage has been caused to the new assembly wing, which includes the National Assembly chamber. The presiding officers will “take stock of the incident and assess the damage” today.

WATCH: Parliament on fire, several buildings under threat

Suspect arrested

Law enforcement agencies and investigating officers were told “to leave no stone unturned in establishing the cause of the incident”.

This comes after the Hawks arrested a 51-year-old suspect when it was found the sprinklers didn’t work because someone had closed the valves.

During his initial media address on Sunday afternoon, President Cyril Ramaphosa confirmed that a suspect was being questioned in connection with the Parliament fire.

NOW READ: De Lille confirms arrest of suspect, Hawks to investigate

Additional reporting by Nica Richards and Gareth Cotterell.