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Police start probe into parliament fire

The fire department has handed the affected buildings to the Hawks.
Image: GCIS
An investigative unit of South Africa’s police will start its probe into a fire that caused extensive damage to parliament buildings in Cape Town once the premises are safe to enter.

The fire department has handed the affected buildings to the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation, also known as the Hawks, parliament spokesman Moloto Mothapo said in an emailed statement Thursday.

Read: Firefighters douse South Africa parliament blaze as suspect held

Engineers from the Department of Public Works and Infrastructure are also on-site to determine if the buildings are safe for the Hawks to access, Mothapo said.

The blaze that first broke out early on Sunday (January 2) and subsequent flare-ups damaged the legislature’s buildings, with several floors of the National Assembly, which houses the main debating chamber, offices of members of parliament and support staff, gutted.

A 49-year-old man appeared in the Cape Town Magistrate’s Court on Tuesday in connection with the blaze. He faces charges of possession of explosives, theft, arson and housebreaking, Cape-Town based News24 reported.

His trial was postponed until next week, the website said, citing his lawyer as saying he intended pleading not guilty.

© 2022 Bloomberg

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