News of a devastating fire that hit the South African parliamentary in Cape Town has shocked many.
President Cyril Ramaphosa called on the South African Police Service (SAPS) to prioritise the investigation on the fire.
“We are still going into what caused the fire and how it started in the Old Assembly and then moved to the National Assembly is something that will be investigated. I believe someone has been held and is being questioned.”
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Ramaphosa said this event is especially upsetting given it’s exactly a week since the passing of Desmond Tutu.
“This is devastating news. It’s a terrible and devastating event particularly after we gave the arch what I would call the best send off yesterday. And to wake up to devastating news of the burning down of the National Assembly is a terrible setback to what we were basking in yesterday.”
Ramaphosa says one person is being held for questioning.
Read the full statement by President Cyril Ramaphosa on the fire at Parliament
I am deeply saddened by the scenes all of us are witnessing today as flames engulf the home of our democracy in the precinct of Parliament.
This is a disastrous event that should sadden all of us.
This is devastating, coming as it does a day after our send-off for Archbishop Desmond Tutu.
Waking up to the destruction of Parliament is a terrible setback from what we were basking in yesterday.
The Archbishop would have been devastated as well, as this is a place he prayed for, supported and wanted to see as a repository of our democracy.
Notwithstanding the damage that has been done to this precinct, the work of Parliament will carry on.
My thoughts are with the Speaker of the National Assembly, the Chairperson of the National Council of Provinces, the Acting Secretary to Parliament, the management and staff of Parliament; as well as Members of the National Assembly and National Council of Provinces, and their support staff.
I am being briefed by the Speaker of the National Assembly, the Minister of Public Works and Infrastructure, the Minister of Police and the Deputy Minister in the Presidency with responsibility for State Security.
We appreciate the speedy response of the Western Cape government and the City of Cape Town in mobilising the response to this emergency.
The real praise and applause belongs to the fire officials and crews of the City of Cape Town who have done a great job. While they have worked to stop Parliament from being razed to ashes, it is very clear that this fire has devastated the parliamentary precinct and its contents and assets, including Parliament’s historical treasures of heritage.
Parliament and the security agencies of government are looking into the cause of this incident and we must allow these investigations to continue.
While these investigations continue, I believe we are united as a nation in our sadness at this destruction of the home of our democracy. I have recently requested the Speaker to convene a Joint Sitting of Parliament for the State of the Nation Address on Thursday, 10 February 2022.
In the wake of this devastating occurrence, we will continue to consult on what we can do to ensure continuity in the functioning of Parliament as the critical institution in our democratic infrastructure.