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Parliament Fire: Firefighters Withdraw As Hawks Enter To Investigate

 

Firefighters have withdrawn from Parliament and affected buildings were handed over to the Hawks, Parliament said on Thursday.

A fire broke out at the parliamentary precinct early on Sunday morning, razing the National Assembly chamber and parts of the Old Assembly building.

A 49-year-old man, Zandile Mafe, was arrested in connection with the fire and will appear in court for the second time on Tuesday.

On Thursday, Parliament’s presiding officers, led by National Assembly Speaker Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula and National Council of Provinces chairperson Amos Masondo, said they were satisfied with the overall progress made on the containment of fire and investigations currently underway at the parliamentary precinct.

“The presiding officers can today confirm that the various teams of the Cape Town Fire and Rescue Service Department, who worked tirelessly to contain the blaze, have now completely withdrawn from the parliamentary precinct,” read a statement from parliamentary spokesperson Moloto Mothapo.

“Since the firefighters contained the flare-up during the morning of Tuesday, the firefighters had remained on site until yesterday evening, monitoring the situation and combing the inside of the buildings for any potential flare-up.

“The firefighters worked over 71 hours with unspeakable courage and bravery to contain the fire. Over 300 men and women were deployed, 60 firefighting appliances and two specialised aerial pieces of equipment were used during the three-day battle against the blaze.”

The fire department handed over the affected buildings to the Hawks to investigate the circumstances around the fire.

Engineers from the Department of Public Works and Infrastructure are also on-site to determine if the affected buildings are safe for access by the Hawks.

The investigators will gain access to the buildings once they receive confirmation from the multidisciplinary team of engineers, including structural, electrical, and forensic experts.

Meanwhile, preparations for the State of the Nation Address (SONA), which President Cyril Ramaphosa will deliver on 10 February, continue.

On Thursday afternoon, the presiding officers would join Cape Town Mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis to inspect possible alternative venues, such as the Municipal Chambers, Cape Town International Convention Centre, and Town Hall.

The inspection follows the offer by the provincial government of the Western Cape and City of Cape Town to use of these venues for both SONA and the Budget speech.

“The presiding officers will announce the approved venue soon,” read the statement.

On Wednesday, the ANC caucus issued a statement saying the DA was “opportunistic” in offering these venues and other avenues had to be explored.

Later in the day, it issued another statement, backtracking from this stance and saying all public facilities should be considered.

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