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South Africa parliament sprinklers failed during fire, report says

Destruction inside the parliament caused by the fire

Image source, City of Cape Town Fire Services

Some fire safety measures were not in place at South Africa’s parliament in Cape Town, which was severely damaged by a blaze this month, a report says.

The report by the City of Cape Town Fire Services said the fire sprinklers had not been activated during the fire.

The alarm system did not work and doors supposed to help block the fire from spreading were kept open by latches.


A 49-year-old man has been arrested. His lawyer says he is innocent.

The fire, which broke out on Sunday, was only contained after two days. It caused extensive damage to the National Assembly, or lower chamber, as well as other sections of the building.

Investigations are under way to determine the causes of the fire. No-one was injured.

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In the report, the divisional commander of the Cape Town Fire Services, Wayne Visser, said fire sprinklers in the building were last serviced in 2017, in breach of fire safety protocols that determine the devices need to be serviced every three years.

Mr Visser said it was “unclear which apportion of the building was actually fitted out with sprinklers”.

The fire department did not receive any signal from the old or the new assembly rooms in the parliament during the blaze, the report said.

The document added that three earlier reports had said fire safety measures were not in place and not up to date after courtesy inspections conducted in 2019, 2020, and 2021.

According to the City of Cape Town’s communications team, the report containing the fire fighters’ observations has been submitted to the Speaker of Parliament.

The suspect arrested, Zandile Christmas Mafe, appeared in court on Tuesday but the hearing was postponed.

The Houses of Parliament in Cape Town are made up of three sections, with the oldest dating back to 1884. The newer sections built in the 1920s and 1980s house the National Assembly. Meanwhile, the government is based in Pretoria.


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