Work of Parliament will continue despite fire damage, says president

Suspect in fire to appear in court tomorrow

A total of 36 firefighters and six firefighting appliances battled a fire at Parliament on Sunday morning. Photographer: Armand Hough/African News Agency(ANA)

A 49-year-old suspect is due to appear in the Cape Town Magistrate’s Court on Tuesday January 4 in connection with the fire at Parliament on Sunday morning.

The Directorate for Priority Crimes Investigation (HAWKS) said he has been charged with housebreaking and theft, arson and will also be charged under the National Key Point Act.

The suspect was allegedly caught with suspected stolen property after he gained unauthorised entry to the parliamentary precinct in Cape Town.

He was spotted by members of the Protection and Security Services (PSS) when they noticed the building was on fire.

The matter was referred to the Hawks’ Crimes Against the State (CATS) team for further investigation.

Meanwhile President Cyril Ramaphosa, who is being briefed by the relevant ministries on the investigation, has assured that notwithstanding the damage that has been done to the parliamentary precinct, the work of Parliament will carry on.

He praised the Western Cape provincial government and the City of Cape Town in mobilising a speedy response to the fire.

Cape Town mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis said while the full scale of the damage is being assessed, the City stands ready to do whatever it can to help. “I have been in contact with the Speaker of Parliament, Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, to offer our immediate assistance so that the work of Parliament can continue.

“Cape Town will make our Council Chamber available to the Speaker for sittings of the National Assembly, as well as the use of the Grand Parade and City Hall for the State of the Nation Address.

“We want to see Parliament continue its important work, and we will do what we can to help,” Mr Hill-Lewis said.

He thanked the City firefighters for their quick response and brave efforts to save as much of Parliament as possible. “They deservedly earned the praise of President Cyril Ramaphosa in his press conference earlier, and they no doubt have the thanks of the country too.”