Man charged with setting parliament on fire — Analysis
Investigators investigate the cause of the failure and the possibility that valuable artifacts may have survived.
A man has been charged over Sunday’s fire that severely damaged the Cape Town parliament buildings. An investigation has been referred to South Africa’s Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation, known as ‘the Hawks’.
“One suspect, aged 49 years old was taken into custody and charged with theft and arson. He will be tried under the National Key Point Act,” the South African Police Service said in a statement. National strategic sites are protected by the 1980 National Key Points Act.
Police said the suspect was spotted by members of the Protection and Security Services soon after the fire started, and caught “With suspected stolen property.”
“The case was referred to the Hawks’ Crimes Against the State (CATS) team for further investigation. His motives are still under investigation.,” they added.
The suspect is due to appear in the Cape Town Magistrate’s Court on Tuesday.
The spokesman for the City of Cape Town’s Fire and Rescue Service, Jermaine Carelse, confirmed on Monday morning that around 20 firefighters remain at the scene “Attending hotspots” in the aftermath of the “Very difficult” fire.
Part of the ceiling was also destroyed by the fire on the third floor in the 1884 Old Assembly Building. The fire also caused damage to the National Assembly Building, which was built in the 1980s and where the Parliament holds its sessions.
“The National Assembly would need to be up again for a long time, I believe,” Carelse said, as quoted by CapeTalk radio.
It is unclear what will happen to some artifacts like the original manuscript of our national anthem.
Investigators won’t be allowed to enter parliament until it is declared safe by the Fire and Rescue Service. They will investigate, among other issues, the reason the sprinkler system did not activate in the fire.
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