Authorities said dozens of firefighters fought the fire, which ignited again after destroying the parliament hall.
The fire that has happened Completely destroyed South Africa’s main parliament hall caught fire again on Monday after about 36 hours of construction on the 130-year-old historical building complex.
“The fire and rescue service confirmed that a fire in the parliament had broken out. The gap under the roof slab of the National Assembly caught fire,” a spokesperson for the city’s fire department said Monday afternoon.
Al Jazeera’s Gillian Wolf reported from Cape Town that about 50 firefighters were fighting the fire at the scene.
The fire on Sunday caused the roof of the new building of the lower house of the National Assembly to collapse. The roof of the old wing dates back to 1884 and was the seat of the upper house of the National Provincial Assembly (NCOP), which also partially collapsed.
“Renovating this building will incur huge costs. The interior of the National Assembly is completely unrecognizable. Everything that fire can destroy has been destroyed,” Al Jazeera’s Wolf said.
Police have charged a 49-year-old man with other crimes such as arson and theft, and he is expected to appear in court on Tuesday.
The Speaker of the National Assembly stated that the arson, if confirmed, would represent an attack on the country’s democracy.
“This is a very abnormal situation,” Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula said.
“The question that even a young child would ask is:’How can a fire that started in some part of the old parliament spread to the new conference hall? We don’t know,” she said at a press conference.
Earlier on Monday, before the flames reignited, the number of firefighters at the scene had been reduced from 70 to only 12 because there were only a few fire sources left. They are dealing with the remaining “hot spots”, Cape Town Fire and Rescue Service spokesperson Jermaine Carelse told News24.com.
The minister in charge, Patricia de Lille, said earlier that the heat in the building had dropped from 400 degrees Celsius to 100 degrees Celsius (752 to 212 degrees Fahrenheit). Therefore, investigators have not yet been able to enter the complex.
In another statement, an elite police force called the Hawks stated that the suspect was believed to have entered the parliament through a window in one of the offices and is currently investigating the matter.
“Because of the security breach here, it is possible to add other charges,” Eagles spokesman Nomthandazo Mbambo told eNCA TV.
Speaker Mapisa-Nqakula stated that President Cyril Ramaphosa’s speech in Parliament-currently scheduled for February 10th-will continue, legislators will still debate and approve the budget, and the committee will continue to work.
Jean-Pierre Smith, a member of the Cape Town Mayor’s Committee responsible for safety and security, stated that the interior of the National Assembly had been destroyed by fire, water and smoke.
The Minister of Public Works and Infrastructure said that a preliminary report on the potential cost and timetable of the renovation is expected to be released on Friday.