The 49-year-old man arrested in connection with the fire at Parliament in Cape Town is expected to appear in court on Tuesday. Public Works and Infrastructure Minister Patricia De Lille says the docket, regarding the fire and the arrest of the man has been handed over to the Hawks for further investigation.
The man faces charges of arson, house breaking and theft.
The blaze caused the roof of the main debating chamber of the Old Assembly Building to collapse after gutting the entire room.
The City of Cape Town’s fire services say the ceiling inside the National Assembly has also collapsed but the roof of that building is still intact.
Scores of firefighters battled to put out the flames. De Lille says another briefing will be held on Monday on an update on the situation.
“It’s confirmed that a person has been arrested, and I can also confirm from General Phathekile, that the docket has now been handed over to the Hawks. It’s the role of the Hawks to investigate any attack on political institutions. According to the report from the police, he was arrested inside parliament,” says De Lille.
51-year-old man to appear in court in connection with Sunday fire at Parliament in Cape Town
Labour union Nehawu has expressed concern about the state of the Parliament building. It has emerged that there was no security personnel looking after the buildings on Saturday night.
The union’s branch secretary in Parliament Themba Gabula says their members were told that there is no money to pay for overtime.
“Police were here yes, but they guard parameters of the institution, now protection service officials guard the inside the building of the parliament. So, had they been here, they would have been able to detect the fire earlier on, and they would have been able to put it under control. This is not surprising to us, as a union that the situation has escalated to this – because we’ve been sounding an alarm to the employer, that our members, members of parliament as well as documents are not safe in parliament because parliament is not complying with the health and safety act.”
But the parliamentary spokesperson Moloto Mothapo has rubbished suggestions by labour union Nehawu, that the fire could have been prevented, had security personnel been present.
He said that the union was politicking and making false statements because they’re disgruntled due to ongoing salary negotiations.
“The investigations have already begun by the relevant authorities. The stakeholders like Nehawu have got an opportunity to be part of that investigation process and to provide whatever information that they claim they know.
“Currently, really, we’re just dealing with speculation, with a union that is really upset with regards to the salary negotiations, and therefore are making irresponsible remarks in the media because no one knows at this moment, what is the cause of the fire and how it could have been prevented,” Mothapo explained.
Parliament Fire | Update on the fire in Parliament with Spokesperson Moloto Mothapo
A compliance expert says that there are laws and by-laws that regulate maintenance compliance for national key points, based on national building regulations as well as the Occupational Health and Safety Act.
Fire auditor and compliance expert Pamela Senyosi says the fire is particularly concerning, given that there was also a blaze at parliament last year.
“When the question was raised that the fire sprinklers could have not been triggered, it’s a very big concern because you start asking yourself that if we have fire systems in place, are they not maintained, and onset times? And if they are maintained, do we have records of the maintenance that was done regularly? I also looked at the fact that the building is old, if there are any changes in the building, like your occupancy. Has it been sent to the municipality for approval?”
Former Fire Auditor, Pamela Sinyosi explains: