Firefighters battle Parliament blaze

Smoke billowed across the city centre skyline as Parliament caught fire on Sunday morning January 2.

Parliament spokesperson Moloto Mothapo confirmed the fire started on the precinct in the morning.

Mayco member for safety and security JP Smith said the third floor of the Old Assembly Building, including the office space and the gymnasium, had been gutted.

At the time of publication, the City had dispatched 70 firefighters to the scene and Mr Mothapo said the cause of the fire was still unknown.

Firefighters enter Parliament in Cape Town to put out a massive blaze that broke out early on Sunday morning. Picture: Armand Hough/ African News Agency

He said the fire had affected both the Old Assembly Wing and the National Assembly Wing of the buildings of Parliament, which house the chambers of the National Assembly and the National Council of Provinces.

“The fire has been contained in the old wing. Firefighters are currently trying to control the fire in the new wing, where the fire has affected the National Assembly Chamber,” he said.

National Assembly Speaker Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, and chairperson of the National Council of Provinces Amos Masondo commended the City of Cape Town’s Fire and Rescue Service for its prompt reaction.

Department of Public Works and Infrastructure Minister Patricia De Lille, State Security deputy minister Zizi Kodwa, police and security services of Parliament visited the precinct to assess the situation.

No one had been injured, Mr Mothapo said.

“The Presiding Officers of Parliament are distressed by this incident and the extent of the damage caused thus far to the precincts of the seat of the national legislature. They have urged all relevant authorities to leave no stone unturned in establishing the cause of the fire,” Mr Mothapo said.

Asked in a virtual press briefing whether they suspected arson, Ms Mapisa-Nqakula said she was optimistic that that was not the case. She said President Cyril Ramaphosa would speak on the matter.

Ms De Lille said she was preparing to visit the old wing and would send Ms Mapisa-Nqakula a report later in the day.

Mr Smith said: “The roof of the Old Assembly building has collapsed and is gone.”

“The actual Old Assembly Chamber does not appear to be damaged although access cannot be gained and it may be water damaged.”

“The entire building has extensive smoke and water damage,” Mr Smith said, adding that there was active firefighting on the second floor

In mid-March 2021, an electrical fault led to a fire incident in Parliament.

Firefighters at Parliament in Cape Town where a massive blaze broke out early on Sunday morning. Picture: Armand Hough/ African News Agency