Police arrest a man suspected of being behind the fire in the South African parliament

Police arrest a man suspected of being behind the fire in the South African parliament


Police arrested a 50-year-old man in connection with a fire in the South African parliament. Allegedly, the water sprinkler system was tampered with to fight the fire, causing it to not work.

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Police arrested a 50-year-old man in connection with a fire in the South African parliament. Allegedly, the water sprinkler system was tampered with to fight the fire, causing it to not work.

The fire broke out early Sunday morning (January 2nd) (local time) and the fire brigade tried to contain the fire in the afternoon. The suspect was arrested from inside the parliament building.

Public Works and Infrastructure Minister Patricia De Lille told reporters that CCTV footage showed that someone had been in the parliamentary complex since that morning.

The cause of the fire was not yet known, but De Lille said that, according to a report she had received, a standard maintenance drill had been carried out and everything including the sprinklers was working just before Parliament closed for the Christmas and New Years holidays.

“This morning it was discovered that someone closed one of the valves and then there was no water to trigger the automatic sprinkler system,” said De Lille

She said the investigation had been turned over to an elite police force called the Hawks.

“It is the role of the hawks to investigate any attack on political institutions,” said De Lille.

President Cyril Ramhosa told reporters after visiting the website that the work of Parliament would continue despite the fire. He also praised the firefighters for saving “a very important national asset of our government”.

PARTLY INCLUDED

The parliament complex, which partly dates from 1884, consists of a collection of buildings. The National Assembly or the Lower House of Parliament is located in the so-called New Wing.

The House of Lords or National Council of Provinces (NCOP) is located in the so-called Old Wing or Old Assembly, which is also used for committee meetings.

“The fire has been contained in the old wing. Firefighters are currently trying to control the fire in the new wing, where the fire affected the National Assembly Chamber,” said a statement from parliament.

Jean-Pierre Smith, a safety and security member of Ce Town’s mayors’ committee, said the roof of the old building had collapsed, adding the fire gutted the third floor of the building, including the office space and gym.

He also told reporters that Parliament’s fire alarm only went off when firefighters were already on site.

In the afternoon, the smoke had partially subsided after it had risen for hours from the roof and the entrance to the National Assembly. But Ce Town City Fire Chief Jermaine Carelse said the fire was still active and was now focused on the first and third floors.

The fire that broke out shortly before 6 a.m. was the second in Parliament in less than a year. In March there was a fire caused by an electrical fault.

“It is outrageous that something like this happened at all, there must be no question. We do not know whether it was a result of security breaches, which may be the cause of some,” said deputy spokesman for the National Assembly Lechesa Tsenoli said.

National Assembly spokesman Nosiviwe Misa-Nqakula told reporters that Ramhosa’s state of the nation address ahead of a joint session of parliament would take place on February 10 as planned, but an alternative venue would have to be used.

(With contributions from agencies)

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