The main building of the Parliament of South Africa, in Cape Town, caught fire in a fire of great proportions that broke out on Sunday morning, around 6 a.m. local time (4 a.m. in mainland Portugal).
In an impromptu press conference in the vicinity of the building, the Minister of Public Works and Infrastructure, Patricia de Lille, said this was a “sad day for democracy in South Africa”.
“Parliament is the home of our democracy, and it is a strategic place,” the governor said.
According to Patricia de Lille, the firefighters managed to contain the flames in the Chamber of the National Assembly of Provinces (the upper house of parliament), and are now trying to do the same in the National Assembly (the lower house).
The causes of the fire have not been determined, as Cape Town firefighters are still in the blaze phase. So far there have been no reports of casualties – legislative work has been suspended due to the holiday season, and MPs and senators were not expected to return until the end of January.
“We are now looking at the security cameras,” the minister said. “Security Minister Zezi Kodwa is on his way, and when we finish this work, we will provide more details.”
Given the damage the fire has already caused, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa’s State of the Nation address will likely be moved elsewhere. The speech, scheduled for February 10, should gather at the same venue all the elected representatives to the South African Parliament.
“I want to express our shock and sorrow,” the newspaper quoted National Assembly President Nociviwe Mabeza Nkakula as saying. Sunday times. Our task now is to find another place for the President to address the people of South Africa. Now, Parliament is on fire, and the National Assembly is on fire.”
One Cape Town security officer, JP Smith, told Location From the South African Weekly News and Guardian From the wing of the former South African National Assembly (House of Representatives, from the times racism, since there was nowhere but the representatives of the white minority) it was “destroyed” by fire.
According to the same official, the fire broke out there, and later spread to the new National Assembly, where it caused a partial collapse of the roof of one of the divisions.
The Speaker of the National Assembly said that the first suspicions indicated that a fire broke out in the offices on the upper floor of the previous assembly, and later spread to a gym. From there he passed the corridor separating the rooms of the old assembly and the new complex.
“Parliament leaders are disturbed by the extent of the damage so far and call on the relevant authorities to spare no effort in their investigations into the cause of the fire,” a statement from the South African Parliament Services said.
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