Huge fire breaks out at South African parliament in Cape Town

2 January 2022, 07:19 | Updated: 2 January 2022, 16:05

Smoke billows from the roof of a building at the South African Parliament.
Smoke billows from the roof of a building at the South African Parliament. Picture: Getty

By Sophie Barnett

A huge fire broke out at South Africa's parliament in Cape Town on Sunday, with flames seen spewing from the building.

A dark plume of smoke and flames could be seen rising from the building in the centre of the city on Sunday morning, with more than 35 firefighters battling the blaze.

No people have been injured in the fire, which was reported by security guards, City of Cape Town Fire and Rescue Service spokesman Jermaine Carelse said.

The fire started on the third floor of a building that houses offices and spread to the National Assembly building, where South Africa's Parliament sits, Minister of Public Works and Infrastructure Patricia de Lille said.

"The fire is currently in the National Assembly chambers," Ms De Lille said.

"This is a very sad day for democracy for Parliament is the home of our democracy."

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa visited the scene, saying a person was "being held and is being questioned" by police in connection with the blaze.

The fire initially was concentrated in an old Parliament building located behind the National Assembly, Ms De Lille told reporters earlier in front of the Parliament complex gates.

Before announcing that the flames had advanced to the National Assembly building, she had said firefighters "have the situation under control".

Authorities feared that parts of the buildings, some of them first built in the late 1800s, might collapse because of the heat.

"The bitumen on the roof is even melting, an indication of the intense heat. There have been reports of some walls showing cracks, which could indicate a collapse," News24 website quoted Mr Carelse as saying.

A major fire broke out in the South African parliament building in Cape Town.
A major fire broke out in the South African parliament building in Cape Town. Picture: Getty

The president and many of South Africa's high-ranking politicians were in Cape Town for the funeral service of Archbishop Desmond Tutu, which took place on Saturday at the city's St George's Cathedral, about a block away from the Parliament precinct.

The anti-apartheid campaigner died on Boxing Day aged 90 and has since been lying in state at St George's Cathedral in the city.

A general view of a building on fire at the South African Parliament precinct in Cape Town.
A general view of a building on fire at the South African Parliament precinct in Cape Town. Picture: Getty

This story is being updated.

Latest World News

See more Latest World News

Cristina de Borbon and Inaki Urdangarin

Spanish monarch’s sister and husband break up after 25 years

Members of Ukraine’s Territorial Defence Forces, volunteer military units of the Armed Forces, train in a city park in Kyiv

Nato outlines ‘deterrence’ plan as tensions with Russia soar

Several injuries have been reported after a shooting in a lecture hall in Heidelberg, south west Germany

Lone gunman dead and four injured after shooting in German university

Pope Benedict XVI

Former pope was at meeting where paedophile priest was discussed

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director general of the World Health Organisation

WHO chief warns against talk of ‘endgame’ in pandemic

The city of Athens, including the Lycabettus Hill, is covered with snow

Severe weather brings snow to Athens and Greek islands

A security guard with a hazy face shield stands near the entrance of the main media centre at the 2022 Winter Olympics, Monday (Jae C Hong/AP)

Beijing residents tested amid cluster of Covid cases as lockdown lifted in Xi’an

Nato secretary general Jens Stoltenberg

Nato sends ships and fighter jets to eastern Europe amid Russia-Ukraine tensions

Special representative for Afghanistan Nigel Casey, right, shakes hands with Taliban representative Amir Khan Muttaqi, centre, ahead of a meeting in Oslo, Norway

Taliban hold first talks in Europe since Afghan takeover

A demonstrator holds a placard that reads ‘No to vaccine pass’ during a rally in Paris, France

France bars unvaccinated from restaurants and sports venues

A mutinous soldier fires into the air at the Bobo interchange, near the Lamizana camp in Burkina Faso’s capital Ouagadougou

President of Burkina Faso ‘held by mutinous soldiers’

Manfred Thierry Mugler has died at the age of 73

Fashion icon Manfred Thierry Mugler dies at aged 73

A health worker administers a polio vaccine to a child in Lahore, Pakistan (KM Chaudary/AP)

Pakistan launches polio vaccination drive amid coronavirus surge

A Japan Air Self-Defence Force aircraft arrives at Tonga’s Fua’amotu International Airport, near Nuku’alofa (AP)

Japan continues aid deliveries to tsunami-ravaged Tonga

Thierry Mugler acknowledges applause following his 2001-2002 ready-to-wear collection presentation in Paris on March 12 2001 (Remy de la Mauviniere/AP)

French fashion designer Thierry Mugler dies aged 73

Ukraine Russia

US orders families of Ukraine embassy staff to leave as invasion fears mount