The roof of the National Assembly caught fire on Monday Picture: Moloto Mothapo/Twitter
The roof of the National Assembly caught fire on Monday Picture: Moloto Mothapo/Twitter

Parliament Fire: Investigations are under way, report expected by Friday

By Mayibongwe Maqhina Time of article published Jan 3, 2022

Share this article:

Cape Town: Parliament says a multi-agency and multi-pronged investigation into the fire that gutted parts of the Parliament on Sunday were underway.

Briefing the media on Monday, National Council of Provinces chairperson Amos Masondo said the investigations would be in full swing once the building was declared safe and handed over to the investigators.

“We wish to assure all the people of South Africa that we will leave no stone unturned to enable appropriate action to be taken by all relevant authorities,” he said.

Public Works and Infrastructure Minister Patricia de Lille said a team of engineers – electrical, structural and mechanical – have been brought to assess the damage caused.

“The engineers will focus on repairs that need to be done and also on the cost of repairs and the time frames for the repairs,” De Lille said.

The engineers could not access the gutted National Assembly owing to temperatures that were about 100ºC, down from Sunday’s 400ºC.

“What they have done is to use a drone which they are putting inside to assess the structure of the building until the temperatures can cool down,” she said.

De Lille said they have also brought in a fire expert who would determine where the fire started along with the fire forensic team.

“Their work also started today. We are informed by the professional team that we can expect a preliminary report by Friday morning about their preliminary findings.

“That report will be shared with Madam Speaker and presiding officers, and we will decide together what to do once we have seen the full extent of the cost and what needs to be repaired,” she said.

Masondo said 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.”

He said the democratic institution has 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 also 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 Keiskamma tapestry on the ground floor of the Old Assembly.”

He expressed gratitude to the swift response by the firefighters and the role played by the police, De Lille and officials, among others.

Masondo said the national legislature required resilience to ensure its work continued with minimal disruption in consultation with other arms of the state.

“We wish to assure you that the State of the Nation Address and Budget Speech and other programmes will proceed as planned.

“Details will be shared when concrete alternatives are done,” he said.

Mapisa-Nqakula said the fire demonstrated the importance of unity of South Africans and the support received by the institutions and the presiding officers.

“The Cape Town Convention Centre has made an offer that we can use their facilities and conditions under which they would have to be done.

“The second offer was made by the mayor of the City of Cape Town and the offer is that the renovations have been done at city hall if we wanted to use the city hall at any time for Sona. It is the kind of venue which can take up to 1 000 people. He also offered their old chamber for us to use as Parliament,” she said.

She said it was very important for South Africans to take note that when a crisis occurred, it provided an opportunity for the country to come together and unite in finding a solution.

[email protected]

Political Bureau

Share this article: