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‘We must not allow scapegoating to take place’: DA vows to get to the bottom of blaze in parliament

Smoke rises after a fire broke out at Parliament.
Smoke rises after a fire broke out at Parliament.
Image: Reuters/Sumaya Hisham

As the country awaits a report on the investigation into the fire that ripped through parliament, the DA has vowed to get to the bottom of what it suggested was “something very sinister”. 

The party is insisting an independent forensic investigation be undertaken alongside that by police “because we strongly believe you cannot investigate yourself”, said party chief whip Natasha Mazzone.

Speaking outside the parliamentary precinct on Tuesday, party leader John Steenhuisen said though they welcomed the arrest of alleged arsonist Zandile Mafe, scapegoating must not be allowed. 

“We notice an arrest has been made and we welcome it, but we must not allow scapegoating to take place. Police will probably remember what happened during the break-in at the chief justice office, where there was suddenly a flurry of high-profile arrests. Those cases frittered away and the suspects have never been heard from again.”

Steenhuisen said the focus should be on getting answers on “why this fire started, how it was allowed to spread and why it was able to do so in such an unchecked manner, what systems were working and what systems were not working”.

Throughout the debacle, parliamentary officials had not taken the country into confidence and had not shouldered responsibility, charged Steenhuisen. 

“What we have seen over the past few days is a lot of blame shifting between role players. I think every section of parliament and parliament security services needs to take responsibility.” 

The party said it would ensure that the work of parliament, state of the nation address and budget speech continued uninterrupted.

“We hope, like a phoenix rising from the ashes, our parliament too will rise from the ashes,” said Steenhuisen. 

The party’s view was that something sinister was behind the fire.   

“From the damage and devastation we can see and from the statement made by the speaker last night, it is looking like something more sinister than simply a homeless man jumping over the fence and starting the fire. It is looking like something very sinister is going on and we will get to the bottom of it,” said Mazzone. 


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