Citizen Reporter
3 minute read
4 Jan 2022
10:56 am

Parliament fire contained, inspections for hotspots continue

Citizen Reporter

Authorities will take over the scene should there be no more fires by the end of the day.

A fire at National Assembly Parliament on January 02, 2022 in Cape Town, South Africa. Picture: Gallo Images/Brenton Geach

Further damage has been caused to the National Assembly in Cape Town despite the blaze that engulfed the building being brought under control by 09:00 on Tuesday morning.

Firefighters continued to extinguish flames around midnight after a new blaze broke out on Monday afternoon.

Parliament confirmed in a statement on Tuesday morning that parts of the New Assembly has been “completely gutted”.

“The fight against the fire continued into midnight following yesterday afternoon’s re-emergence of the fire which was propelled by solid south-easterly winds and necessitated the deployment of heavy-duty aerial fire-fighting appliances to reinforce the existing capacity,” the statement read.

ALSO READ: Don’t blame me for parliament fire, says Mapisa-Nqakula

“The firefighters applied a courageous and brave fighting spirit in their fight for hours last night, and were able to put down the fire by midnight.

“Further damage has been caused, with more floors of the building, which house offices of MPs and support staff, being completely gutted,” it further said.

The blaze has also “completely destroyed” the roof of the National Assembly, where the flare up occurred.

Six of the ten fire trucks involved in fighting the blaze are still on the scene. However, they are expected to be withdrawn during the course of the morning.

Also giving an update on the status of the fire, City of Cape Town Chief Fire Officer, Ian Schnetler said inspections on hotspots inside the National Assembly were being conducted.

“At present it’s very quiet. The Divisional Commander is still doing a preliminary inspection currently on the 4th and 5th floor, to see whether there are any further hotspots. We have [also] been assisted by EMS with their drones,” he said.

Schnetler also indicated that the authorities will take over the scene should there be no more fires by the end of the day.

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

“If there is nothing further or they do the final inspections probably by the end of the day, we should be having this thing sorted out and then handing over the building to the authorities for further inspections.”

The fire, which started on Sunday, has affected both the Old Assembly Wing and the National Assembly Wing of Parliament, which also houses the upper house, National Council of Provinces (NCOP).

Government officials on Monday confirmed the NCOP’s Chamber Offices, the library, and a museum were all spared.

The fire initially started at the hall of the Old Assembly building, then spread to the National Assembly.

A 49-year-old man was arrested in connection with the fire and is expected to appear in the Cape Town Magistrates Court on Tuesday.

He is facing charges of housebreaking, theft and arson. He will also be charged under The National Key Point Act.

Concerns over Sona

On Monday, National Assembly Speaker Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula assured the public that this year’s State of the Nation Address (Sona), budget speech, and other parliamentary programmes will continue as planned.  

 Cape Town mayor, Geordin Hill-Lewis has since offered others venues to host the 2022 Sona.

“I have been in contact with the Speaker of Parliament, [Honourable] Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, to offer our immediate assistance so that the work of Parliament can continue.

“Cape Town will make our Council Chamber available to the Speaker for sittings of the National Assembly, as well as the use of the Grand Parade and City Hall for the State of the Nation Address,” he said in a statement.