Parliament fire extinguished, damage extensive

The cause of the fire is not yet known but a 49-year-old man has been arrested on charges of arson and theft.

Parts of the parliament precinct in Cape Town were left gutted after a fire on 2 January 2022. Picture: JP Smith/City of Cape Town

JOHANNESBURG - Firefighters in Cape Town have extinguished the blaze that broke out in Parliament on Sunday.

Police, investigators and forensic teams have been waiting patiently for permission to enter the building.

The cause of the fire is not yet known but a 49-year-old man has been arrested on charges of arson and theft.

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South Africa's Parliament building is on fire

City of Cape Town Safety and Security MMC JP Smith said that the damage was extensive: "The old assembly, the top two floors are effectively destroyed, there's very bad damage. Mercifully, I walked, escorted by the fire department, through the ground floor to go and see the old assembly hall and that seems to have been spared damage."

Government will have to give some kind of an explanation as to why the sprinklers had been turned off before the blaze and why the fire alarm only sounded once emergency teams were already on the scene.

Nehawu also claims that its members were told not to report for duty due to budgetary constraints.

There's still not much action outside of Parliament but behind closed doors National Assembly Speaker Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula has been given a full briefing.

The Hawks forensics investigators and structural engineers are only allowed inside the building to begin assessments once it has been declared safe by firefighters.

The South African Red Cross Society was handing out water to exhausted firefighting teams in the early hours of Monday morning. Meanwhile, politicians from the African National Congress (ANC), Good and ActionSA made appearances on Monday to convey their sincere messages of gratitude o those that had been working throughout the night to save Parliament.

In a media briefing later on Monday, it is hoped that there'll be more details around where Parliament will be housed temporarily when workers return in about two weeks' time.