Fire Guts South Africa’s Parliament Building In Cape Town

Fire Guts South Africa's Parliament Building In Cape Town

By Uganda Online Media

President Yoweri Museveni has appointed Maj Tom Magambo who has been in the Internal Security Organisations(ISO) as the new police Criminal Investigations Director.

“President Museveni has promoted Private Tom Magambo to the rank of Major and appointed him Director Criminal Investigations of the Uganda Police Force,” the acting UPDF spokesperson, Lt Col Ronald Kakurungu said in a statement.

Cape Town: A major fire has erupted at the South African parliament building in Cape Town, with flames bursting from the roof of a building and a plume of smoke that could be seen from miles away.

Firefighters arrived at the building a few minutes after receiving the initial call at 06:12 local time (04:12 GMT) on Sunday, the City Fire Services said, as large flames and a huge column of smoke engulfed parts of the compound.

National Assembly Speaker Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula told a press conference that the National Assembly had caught fire, contrary to previous reports that the Old Assembly building had been the only one affected.

Mapisa-Nqakula said the fire will not prevent the State of the Nation Address from going ahead in February.

Minister of Public Works and Infrastructure Patricia De Lille told the press conference that the National Assembly was still burning.

“We have not been able to contain the fire in the national assembly chambers. Part of the ceilings have collapsed,” she said.

The precinct has three main sections, the original Parliament building completed in the late 1800s and two newer parts built in the 20th century. Historical artefacts inside the premises are likely to have been damaged or destroyed.

The fire initially was concentrated at the old Parliament building, which is located behind the National Assembly, De Lille told reporters. She had initially said firefighters had the situation under control, but the flames later spread to the current Parliament building.

De Lille cautioned against speculations on the causes of the fire until investigations are concluded.

“Until such a time that a report has been furnished that there was arson, we have to be careful not to make suggestions that there was an attack,” she said.

However, authorities were investigating a suspect’s faulty fire detection equipment and President Cyril Ramaphosa said a person has been taken in for questioning. “I believe someone is being held and is being questioned,” he said,

The president arrived at parliament around 1:30 pm on Sunday accompanied by Premier Alan Winde and Public Works Minister Patricia De Lille to view the damages.

Cape Town’s mayoral committee member for safety and security Jean-Pierre Smith said fire had also gutted the third floor of the Old Assembly building and that the roof had collapsed.

“Fire is not under control and cracks in the walls of the building have been reported. The damage will be significant, especially if it’s not contained soon,” he warned.

Smith added that firefighters were still battling to bring the blaze under control and that two aircrafts had been deployed.

No injuries have been reported in the fire, which was spotted by security guards. Parliament was closed for the holidays at the time of the incident.

Ramaphosa and many of South Africa’s high-ranking politicians were in Cape Town for the funeral service of Archbishop Desmond Tutu, which took place on Saturday at the city’s St. George’s Cathedral, about a block away from the Parliament precinct.

Several hours after the blaze started, thick smoke was still pouring from one of the several buildings that make up the parliament complex.

According to reports, 36 firefighters were initially sent to the scene and authorities later called for additional resources.

Jermaine Carelse, from the City of Cape Town fire services department, said 70 firefighters were on the ground trying to contain the blaze.

“They are still battling. Active firefighting is still taking place,” he said.

Police cordoned off the complex and closed roads. Some of the blocked-off areas were near where people had left flowers and other tributes to Tutu.

Member of parliament Steve Swart called the fire “tragic” and told reporters at the scene that MPs will continue their work remotely.

MP Samantha Graham, who sits in the Portfolio Committee on Public Works,  has raised concerns that the fire at the Parliamentary buildings could have been prevented.

According to Graham, an external report by auditing company BDO had highlighted the fire hazard.

The Parliament’s Presiding Officers said investigations are underway to establish the causes of the blaze.

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