New blaze at parliament brought under control – officials


A new blaze at the complex housing South Africa’s parliament in Cape Town was brought under control overnight, city officials said on Tuesday, as a suspect arrested in connection with the fire was due to appear in court.

An initial fire on Sunday caused the roof of the New Wing housing the assembly’s lower chamber to collapse. The roof of the Old Wing, which dates back to 1884 and houses the upper chamber, the National Council of Provinces, also partially collapsed.

The new blaze broke out on Monday.

“Around midnight the fire was brought under control,” Cape Town city officials said in a statement. “Teams are now working their way through the maze-like building, room-for-room, as they attempt to locate and extinguish (hot spots).”

“This is a lengthy process, as some rooms are needing to have their interior wooden cladding pulled apart, in order to identify any concealed hot spots,” they said.

A 49-year-old man charged with arson and other offences including theft was expected to appear in court on Tuesday.

The elite Hawks police said on Monday the suspect was believed to have gained entry to the parliament through an office window.

The fire swept through the buildings but officials have said important sections including a museum with artworks and heritage objects were saved, as was an embroidered tapestry telling the story of the Eastern Cape on the ground floor of the Old Assembly Building.



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