President Cyril Ramaphosa says someone has been taken in for questioning in connection with the fire at Parliament. The President is currently surveying the Parliamentary precinct where parts of the National Key Point are still alight.
Police are questioning a 49-year-old man in connection with the fire.
Ramaphosa says the fire that has gutted Parliament’s Old Assembly building will not interrupt the work of the National Assembly.
Ramaphosa was speaking outside the Houses of parliament while firefighters continued to quell the remainder of the blaze.
The President has thanked the Western Cape Premier Alan Winde for rapidly mobilising the help needed to fight the fire. He also had high praise for the firefighters who arrived just minutes after the blaze was first reported.
‘SONA to go ahead’
National Assembly Speaker, Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, says the State of the Nation Address will go ahead next month despite the fire. Mapisa-Nqakula says they will conduct a full investigation once the fire has been extinguished.
“We do not know what we have lost. All of that information is information that can only be made available when one – the fire has been extinguished and two – when the police together with Parliamentary security and the executive management of Parliament have started working together to conduct an audit of what it is that we have lost during the course of this fire.”
Speaker of the National Assembly and Public Works Minister address the media:
‘Sad day for our democracy’
Damage caused to the South African parliament building in Cape Town by a fire on Sunday was described as ‘a sad day for our democracy’ by a government minister.
Public Works and Infrastructure Minister Patricia De Lille told the media the fire was currently burning in the National Assembly chamber, but had been contained in other parts. De Lille said there were no reports of any injuries in the fire.
The cause of the blaze was not yet known.
The fire broke out on Sunday with flames coming from the roof of the building sending a plume of smoke that could be seen from miles away.
Jean-Pierre Smith, a Cape Town mayoral committee member responsible for safety and security, said it appeared the fire detection system appeared not to have worked properly.
It wasn’t immediately clear if anyone was in the building. -Additional reporting by Reuters
Editor’s Note: This article was updated on Monday 3 January 2022 to reflect the correct age of the suspect. He is 49 years old Not 51 years as earlier reported.