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Hawks to step in after crew of 300 contain parliament fire over 71 hours

The fire in parliament in Cape Town earlier this week.
The fire in parliament in Cape Town earlier this week.
Image: Moloto Mothapo via Twitter

The Hawks will determine the circumstances around the fire that gutted the National Assembly building after the withdrawal of firefighters who worked for more than 71 hours to contain the blaze.

More than 300 men and women were deployed and 60 firefighting appliances and airborne equipment used during the three-day battle against the blaze, National Assembly speaker Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula and National Council of Provinces chairperson Amos Masondo said on Thursday.

The firefighters remained on site until Wednesday evening, monitoring the situation and combing the inside of the building for potential flare-ups. The presiding officers commended the team for their "unspeakable courage and bravery".

The Hawks investigators will access the building once they receive confirmation that it is safe to do so from the team of structural and electrical engineers and forensic experts.

One suspect has been arrested in connection with the blaze thus far. Zandile Christmas Mafe faces a litany of charges, including arson and theft, and will reappear in court on Tuesday January 11.

Parliamentary spokesperson Moloto Mothapo said parliament's mace, which signifies the authority and sitting of the National Assembly, was retrieved from the ashes without damage. 

The new mace was created in 2004 to represent the new democratic dispensation, replacing the previous colonial and apartheid era versions, he said.

Parliament's presiding officers will on Thursday afternoon examine potential alternative venues for the state of the nation address (Sona) to be delivered by President Cyril Ramaphosa on February 10.

Options include the municipal chambers, Cape Town International Convention Centre and the town hall. 


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