49-year-old suspect arrested for parliament fire, case handed over to Hawks
The person taken into custody in connection with the fire that broke out in parliament's National Assembly building is now confirmed as a suspect in the blaze.
"The person is now officially a suspect and will appear in court on Tuesday," Hawks spokesperson Brigadier Nomthandazo Mbambo told TimesLIVE.
The Hawks have taken control of the investigation into the fire that gutted the national assembly building.
Mbambo confirmed that the 51-year-old suspect was not a parliament employee and had gained access to the precinct through a back window.
"He is an ordinary citizen," she said.
Public works and infrastructure minister Patricia de Lille confirmed earlier that a 51-year-old suspect had been arrested in connection with the fire.
The fire, which caused extensive damage to Alpha (the old assembly) and a structural ceiling collapse in the new assembly building, started at about 6am on Sunday
Mbambo could not confirm an earlier statement by De Lille that the reason the building's fire-suppression sprinklers had not worked was because the valves had been closed.
De Lille said the reason the sprinklers didn't work was because someone closed the valves.
Her comments came as the portfolio committee on public works and infrastructure called for a speedy investigation and inquest into Sunday's fire.
The committee also wants a full report on the fire incident that damaged the old assembly building of parliament in March last year.
De Lille was speaking after President Cyril Ramaphosa told reporters outside parliament earlier on Sunday that the building's sprinkler system “did not work as it was supposed to”, adding that the cause of the fire was being investigated.
“We are still going into what caused the fire and it having started in the old assembly,” he said.
“But we need to go a lot deeper and what measures we need to take going forward.”
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