Firefighters work at the parliament as the fire flared up again, in Cape Town on January 3 2022. Picture: REUTERS/SUMAYA HISHAM
Firefighters work at the parliament as the fire flared up again, in Cape Town on January 3 2022. Picture: REUTERS/SUMAYA HISHAM

A new blaze at the complex housing SA’s parliament 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 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,” City of Cape Town 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.

Parliament said in a statement that only six of the 10 fire trucks remain on the scene and it was hoped that more trucks would be withdrawn during the morning.

“Further damage has been caused, with more floors of the building, which houses offices of MPs and support staff, being completely gutted,” the statement said.

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

The elite Hawks police said on Monday the suspect is 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, was saved. Also rescued was an embroidered tapestry on the ground floor of the Old Assembly Building.

Reuters

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