Parliamentary presiding officers made assurances on Monday that the historic documents housed at the national legislature have not been damaged by the fire that broke out on Sunday.
“I wish to confirm that the historical collection of Hansard that is kept in the library is not damaged.
“We believe those documents are safe though we have not had access there,” House of committee chairperson Cedric Frolick said.
Frolick also said Parliament has over the years invested to start the digitisation of its important documents.
He added that there were two data centres where documents were stored.
“The primary data centre is not affected at all because it is not in the destroyed buildings.”
However, he said the secondary data centre, which was in the basement of the new wing of the buildings, had electricity switched off when the fire was spreading.
“Once we have access, staff will make a determination on the second data centre in the basement of the new wing,” Frolick said.
National Council of Provinces chairperson Amos Masondo maintained that they were deeply saddened by the fire that wreaked havoc in parts of Parliament.
“We are pained by the damage to the Old Assembly chamber and National Assembly chamber and also the critical offices of Parliament, which is a national key point and legislative seat of our country whose value is beyond any measure,” Masondo said.
He also said the democratic institution had a history that represented heritage treasures for the country and a source of social unity and cohesion required in the nation-building programme.
“We can confirm that one of the biggest losses the people of South Africa suffered is the complete burning down of the National Assembly chamber,” Masondo said.
The NCOP chairperson said the offices of Speaker Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, Deputy Speaker Lechesa Tsenoli and President Cyril Ramaphosa were not affected by the fire.
“We appreciate the fact that some of the important sections were saved. These include the NCOP chamber and offices, parliament library, the museum and artworks and heritage objects as well Kieskamma tapestry on the ground floor of the Old Assembly.”
He added that there was no indication that historic and Hansard documents were lost, but he hastened to say they would await a detailed assessment.
“Upon receiving the report, one can make a determination,” Masondo said.