South African President Cyril Ramaphosa on Sunday said he “believes” somebody is being held and questioned for the fire at the parliament in the early morning in the legislative capital Cape Town and promised a deep investigation into it.
“We need to go a lot deeper, a lot deeper into how this type of event can take place and what measures we will need to take going forward,” Ramaphosa addressed media outside the parliament.
The president said the fire first started at the hall of the old assembly building, then moved to the lower house National Assembly.
He also commended safety officers for their great capability, speed and resource mobilisation in response to the fire, and said Speaker of the National Assembly Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula is rushing to the scene from the neighbouring province the Eastern Cape by car as she couldn’t get a flight.
The fire has affected both the Old Assembly Wing and the National Assembly Wing of the buildings of the parliament, which house the National Assembly and the upper chamber of National Council of Provinces, the parliament said in a statement.
The cause of the fire has not been established and investigations are underway by the relevant authorities, it said.
Later Sunday, police said a suspect was due in court.
“A man has been arrested inside the parliament, he’s still being interrogated. We have opened a criminal case. He has been arrested and will appear in court on Tuesday,” police spokeswoman Thandi Mbambo said.
The historic parliament building houses a collection of rare books and the original copy of the former Afrikaans national anthem
“Die Stem van Suid-Afrika” (“The Voice of South Africa”), which was already damaged.
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