Politics

Huge fire brings down roof at South Africa parliament


A massive fire in South Africa’s houses of parliament in Cape Town caused the roof of the old National Assembly building to collapse on Sunday as the blaze continued to rage all day.

No casualties have been reported in the fire, which has also spread to the wing housing the current National Assembly, where parliament sits.

The cause of the fire was not yet known, but an investigation was opened.

“Someone has been held right now and is being questioned,” he said.

“The entire building has suffered extensively smoke and water damage,” Smith said, adding “the fire has not been contained”.

It then spread to newer parts of the complex which are currently in use.

The imposing red and white building was still shrouded in a thick cloud of black at midday.

A team of firefighters who were first to arrive at the scene battled the flames for several hours before being forced to retreat and call for reinforcements.

Former Cape Town mayor and current minister Patricia de Lille warned it would still be several hours before the fire was brought under control.

Emergency services feared the fire could spread swiftly through the old rooms, which are decorated with wood, thick carpets and curtains.

The area around the fire in the upmarket neighbourhood was quickly cordoned off. 

After a simple, no-frills mass, with a cheap coffin — according to the famously modest Tutu’s instructions — his ashes were interred in the cathedral on Sunday.

Cape Town has been home to South Africa’s houses of parliament since 1910, when separate administrations formed a union under British dominion and became a predecessor to the modern South African republic.

It was in parliament where South Africa’s last apartheid president FW de Klerk announced in 1990 plans to dismantle the brutal white-minority regime.

Another fire also broke out in the older wings of parliament in March, but it was quickly contained. 

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