Parliament Fire: Speaker Mapisa-Nqakula Not Talking Arson

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The Speaker of Parliament Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula on Sunday refused to be drawn to say the fire engulfing the National Assembly was arson.

Speaking remotely via video streaming the Speaker told a media briefing that the cause of the fire had not yet been determined and she would not like to speculate.

Mapisa-Nqakula said she was heading to Cape Town later today to assess the damage caused by the fire.

President Cyril Ramaphosa was scheduled to deliver his State of the Nation Address (SONA) to the Joint Sitting of the National Assembly and the National Council of Provinces next month on Thursday, 10 February.

But with the fire having reached the National Assembly it appears that the president may have to use a different venue.

The ceiling in the National Assembly had collapsed and cracks had appeared in the walls in other parts of the Parliament buildings.

However, Mapisa-Nqakula said SONA would take place as scheduled and only the venue would have to be discussed and decided on.

Public Works and Infrastructure Minister Patricia De Lille said there were no reports of any person being injured or deceased in the fire.

“The Presiding Officers of Parliament are distressed by this incident and the extent of the damage caused thus far to the precincts of the seat of the national legislature,” said Parliament spokesperson, Moloto Mothapo.

“They have urged all relevant authorities to leave no stone unturned in establishing the cause of the fire. The public will be kept updated.”

De Lille said the fire would most likely take another three hours to bring under control.

Answering questions regarding an earlier fire that broke out in the Parliament building in March last year, De Lille said the forensic report indicated that an electrical fault caused the fire.