Huge fire destroys South Africa's parliament

Monday January 03 2022
South Africa National Assembly building on fire.

Firefighters try to put out a blaze at the National Assembly building in the South African parliamentary complex in Cape Town on January 2, 2022. PHOTO | RODGER BOSCH | AFP


South African National Assembly Speaker Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula is concerned about the possibility of a national security attack after a fire gutted the country’s parliament on Sunday morning.

No person has been confirmed injured from the fire, which now threatens the hosting of upcoming key events, including the State of Nation Address by President Cyril Ramaphosa and the budget presentation by the finance minister.

The cause of the fire is yet to be established. Still, Parliament spokesperson Moloto Mothapo said both the Old Assembly Wing and the National Assembly Wing of the parliament buildings were affected.

“Parliament’s presiding officers wish to confirm the breakout of a fire on the parliamentary precinct this morning. The cause of the fire has not yet been established, and investigations are underway by the relevant authorities,” said Mr Mothapo.

Roof collapsed

The fire spread to the National Assembly Chamber, whose roof collapsed.


Heavy plumes of smoke could be seen billowing as firefighters battled the blaze.

Mrs Mapisa-Nqakula said it would be a sad day for South Africa for people to plan to attack an institution “where the aspirations of South African people are discussed and decided”.

“It would not only be an attack on parliament, but it would be an attack on everything South Africans have fought for and their democracy,” she said.

With crucial parliamentary events lined up, Mrs Mapisa-Nqakula said they are “determined to make sure the State of the Nation Address continues”.

President Ramaphosa is scheduled to deliver his State of the Nation Address to the joint sitting of the National Assembly and the National Council of Provinces on February 10.

The budget speech by the Finance minister is also delivered on February of each year.

Mrs Mapisa-Nqakula said they would have to “look for alternative venues” to host those key national events. 

Minister of Public Works and Infrastructure Patricia De Lille, the Deputy Minister of State Security Zizi Kodwa, the South African Police Services and security personnel of parliament were in the parliamentary precinct assessing the situation.