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Parliament fire: Affected buildings handed over to Hawks for investigation

Picture: Phando Jikelo/African News Agency (ANA)

Picture: Phando Jikelo/African News Agency (ANA)

Published Jan 6, 2022

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Cape Town - Firefighters have now completely withdrawn from the Parliamentary precinct following the fire which gutted the National Assembly and Old Assembly buildings.

The Hawks are investigating the circumstances around the flames, which started on Sunday and re-emerged on Monday afternoon.

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Engineers from the Department of Public Works and Infrastructure are also on-site to determine if the affected buildings are safe for access by the directorate.

Parliament spokesperson Moloto Mothape said the Speaker of the NA, Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, and chairperson of the National Council of Provinces (NCOP), Amos Masando, are satisfied with the overall progress made on the containment of fire and the investigations currently under way at the precinct of Parliament.

“Since the firefighters contained the flare-up during the morning of Tuesday, the firefighters had remained on site until yesterday evening, monitoring the situation and combing the inside of the buildings for any potential flare-up.

“The firefighters worked over 71 hours with unspeakable courage and bravery to contain the fire. Over 300 men and women were deployed, 60 fire fighting appliances and two specialised aerial pieces of equipment were used during the three-day battle against the blaze,” he said.

Zandile Mafe, the man accused of setting the parliamentary precinct on fire, appeared in the Cape Town Magistrate’s Court on Tuesday on charges of housebreaking with intent to steal and theft, two counts of arson, possession of an explosive device and destruction of essential infrastructure.

National Prosecuting Authority in the Western Cape spokesperson Eric Ntabazalila says more charges are likely to be added.

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The State requested a postponement to 11 January for bail information such as the confirmation of his residential address, whether Mafe has any assets, any pending cases, any pending warrants of arrests against him and any previous convictions.

“The State also requested the postponement in order to determine the schedule under which the accused will be charged as it intends to charge him under Schedule 5 while the defence insists that he must be charged under Schedule 1,” Ntabazalila said.

Mafe’s defence lawyer, Luvuyo Godla, is of the view that his client is not the person who was supposed to be apprehended.

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He said Mafe is being used as a scapegoat and emphasised that the fire is as a result of the failure of the executive and legislature.

Godla further added Mafe denies and rejects the charges. He is expected to plead not guilty.

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Political Bureau

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