Stabroek News

Suspect arrested in connection with South African parliament fire

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CAPE TOWN, (Reuters) - A fire at the South African parliament caused extensive damage yesterday, collapsing the roof and gutting an entire floor in one building and a man in his 50s was arrested in connection with the blaze.

The fire broke out in the early morning and authoritie­s said the sprinkler system appeared to have been tampered with and so did not work. By afternoon, firefighte­rs were still trying to contain the blaze in one of the several buildings that make up the parliament complex in the legislativ­e capital, Cape Town.

A person was arrested inside parliament, Public Works and Infrastruc­ture Minister Patricia De Lille told reporters, adding that the case had been handed over to an elite police unit called the Hawks.

"It's the role of the Hawks to investigat­e any attack on political institutio­ns," De Lille said.

Parliament said in a statement the suspect was a man in his 50s.

There were no reports of any injuries.

The cause of the blaze was not yet known but De Lille said that according to a report that she received, a standard maintenanc­e fire drill had been conducted just before parliament closed for the Christmas and New Year holidays and everything including the sprinklers was working.

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