Suspect Charged in Connection With Fire at South Africa Parliament

South African investigators say a fire that destroyed significant parts of Cape Town’s historic parliamentary precinct Sunday may have been caused by arson. Police say they have arrested a suspect who was found with stolen goods.

Brigadier Nomthandazo Mbombo, from the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation in Cape Town also known as The Hawks, listed the charges against the suspect.

“A 49-year-old suspect was arrested and charged with house-breaking and theft, arson and will also be charged under the National Key Points Act. The suspect was allegedly caught with suspected stolen property after he gained entry to the parliament precinct unauthorized. He was spotted by members of the protection and security services when they noticed the building was on fire,” he said.

The National Key Points Act deals with safeguarding certain installations against sabotage or other hostile acts.

Natasha Mazzone, the chief whip of the main opposition Democratic Alliance party, spoke outside the parliament gates.

“We now know that the water sprinkler system was turned off so clearly it was designed for destruction of our parliament, as I look up, I could cry…And what gives me hope is that the statue of Madiba stands strong and was untouched by the fire. And he’s looking on as we rebuild and rebuild we will. And we will be a better parliament than we were before,” said Mazzone.

By Madiba, she was referring to the late South African President Nelson Mandela.

Officials, including Cape Town’s mayor, offered potential meeting sites for parliament.

“Mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis has offered his city council chambers as well as the City Hall which seats over a thousand. We also have the virtual platform which we’ve all become very used to but sit we will and hold the government to account we certainly will,” said Mazzone.

Public Works Minister Patricia De Lille addressed the media at a briefing at parliament Monday afternoon.

“The temperature inside the building is still plus/minus a hundred degrees Celsius, down from what it was yesterday at over 400 degrees Celsius but what they’ve done in the meantime is to use a drone that they are putting inside the building to assess the structure of the building until the temperatures can cool down,” she said.

She said a team of engineers has been brought on board and will focus on the repairs that need to be done, the cost and the time it will take for completion. De Lille said they’ve also brought in a fire expert who will determine exactly where the blaze started, together with a fire forensic team.

“We are being informed by the professional teams that we can expect a preliminary report by Friday morning about their preliminary findings and that report will then be shared also with Madam Speaker and the presiding officers, and we will then decide together what to do, once we’ve seen the full extent of the cost,” she said.

The suspect is due to appear in the Cape Town Magistrate’s Court on Tuesday.

Source: Voice of America