Cape Town, – Arson and negligence are both under investigation by South African authorities, following the fire that devastated the parliament buildings in Cape Town.
Speaking to news channel eNCA on Monday, Cape Town’s security commissioner Jean-Pierre Smith said he was left “speechless” at how this could happen at the parliamentary complex. He referred to a massive gap in security.
The costs for rebuilding the historic structure is estimated at the equivalent of several hundred million dollars. “We’ll need hundreds of millions, if not billions of rands,” Smith said.
He also spoke of serious deficiencies that could be due to poor maintenance. For example, he said, the electricity system had not switched off automatically and the ventilation systems had continued to run. Also, the automatic fire alarm had only been activated after a long delay.
Minister of Public Works and Infrastructure, Patricia de Lille, said a 49-year-old man would appear in court on Tuesday on charges including break-in, theft and arson after he was caught on camera entering the vacant building.
In the tourist metropolis of Cape Town, more than 70 firefighters had tried for hours over the weekend to get the fire under control – only on Monday morning was the all-clear given.
According to a parliamentary spokesperson, the flames had also destroyed the chamber in which the National Assembly meets.
The fire initially broke out at the back of the building complex that houses the old assembly chamber and the National Council of Provinces, de Lille explained.
The fire has sparked a debate about moving parliament from its historical location in Cape Town to the administrative capital of Pretoria some 1,400 kilometers away.
Proponents of the move note that the building is in danger of collapse, and much of its artwork has been destroyed beyond repair.
The library containing a valuable collection was however undamaged , after a firewall was installed to protect it a number of years ago.
Source: Ghana News Agency