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Fire Ravages South Africa’s Parliament

Fire has gutted a portion of South Africa’s Parliament complex located in Cape Town as of this morning. Sunday, January 2, 2022.

Videos circulated on social media show huge plumes of smoke emanating from the premises.
Local media reports say firefighters have since been dispatched to the scene and are battling the blaze.

It is believed that at the time of the blaze lawmakers were on Christmas and New Year break.
The blaze caused widespread damage, spreading to the wing housing the current National Assembly, where parliament sits.

“This is devastating, coming as it does a day after our send-off for Archbishop Desmond Tutu,” President Cyril Ramaphosa said in a statement.

He praised the firefighters who “worked to stop Parliament from being razed to ashes,” but said, “it is very clear that this fire has devastated the parliamentary precinct and its contents and assets, including Parliament’s historical treasures of heritage.”
Ramaphosa told reporters at the scene an arrest had been made. “Someone has been held right now and is being questioned,” he said.

The main house, the National Assembly, has 400 members. The number of seats that a party has in the Assembly is in proportion to the number of voters that voted for it in the elections.
The National Council of Provinces (NCOP) is the other House of Parliament. The NCOP is constitutionally mandated to ensure that provincial interests are taken into account in the national sphere of government.

Cape Town mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis has said in a statement that he was in contact with the Speaker of Parliament, Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, and that the city of Cape Town offered use of the city’s Council Chamber so “that the work of Parliament can continue.”

Hill-Lewis said in addition to making the Council Chamber available for Parliament’s use, he had offered “the use of the Grand Parade and City Hall for the State of the Nation Address.”

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What we know so far
The fire broke out around 3:00 a.m. UTC (0400 CET) and was on the third story of the Parliament building. Reports indicated that it started in the office space and spread towards a gym.

They were still fighting the fire more than eight hours later.

At least 70 firefighters were at the scene along with several firefighting vehicles.

“The roof of the Old Assembly building has collapsed and is gone,” Jean-Pierre Smith, Cape Town’s mayoral committee member for safety and security, told reporters.

The nearby area, including the cathedral where Archbishop Desmond Tutu was buried on Saturday, was cordoned off.

No casualties have been reported, and it was not immediately clear if anyone was in the building when the fire started.

What caused the blaze?

Minister of Public Works Patricia de Lille told reporters that the fire started on the third floor of an old building that houses offices. It then spread to the old Parliament building, which is located behind the National Assembly building.

She said firefighters “have the situation under control,” but the fire spread soon after and tore through the current Parliament building.

The cause of the blaze is still unknown. De Lille said officials were reviewing CCTV footage to determine the cause of the fire.

Source: Opemsuo.com/ Emmanuel Owusu Anti

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