From the news desk

CoCT fire service denies ‘precautionary’ response to hotspots at Parliament

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By Tauhierah Salie

Parliament announced that it is anticipating a report from Cape Town’s fire service regarding hotspots detected at the National Assembly on Wednesday, 16 February 2022. The City of Cape Town’s Fire and Rescue Service Spokesperson Jermaine Careless however denied that members reported to Parliament.

According to a statement by Parliament spokesperson Moloto Mothapo, the service was called in as a precautionary measure. This after structural engineers from the Public Works Department discovered heat in certain spots within the basement. He said that there was no danger posed to property or person and no potential for flare-ups.

Initial reports by the fire services who attended to the scene found that Parliament’s sprinkler and alarm system had failed during the four-day blaze at the start of January.

Public Works and Infrastructure Minister Patricia de Lille on Monday, 14 Feb 2022, announced the appointment of an independent specialist engineering team to investigate the fire. Preliminary investigations revealed that the 2nd, 3rd and 4th floor suffered severe structural damage.

National Treasury recently agreed to expedite the process and granted the Department of Public Works and Infrastructure the go-ahead to appoint  COEGA Development Cooperation to complete assessments. This includes evaluating the extent of damage and provide professional safety advice as well as providing temporary measures to enable the investigations proceed to continue unobstructed.

“I am pleased that the appointment is now finalised as I am eager to see the teams get to work and provide detailed assessments of the damage, rehabilitation and restorative measures and restoration costs,” said Public Works and Infrastructure Minister Patricia de Lille.

Case against alleged arsonist continues

Meanwhile, the scrutiny of the case of suspected arsonist Zandile Mafe is also ongoing.

The Cape Town Magistrate’s Court had, last week, granted state Prosecutor Mervyn Menigo’s request for a six-week postponement to finalize its investigation, including forensic reports.

Mafe reportedly faces six charges, including one count of terrorism, two counts of arson, possession of explosive devices, theft and housebreaking with intent to steal.

Menigo told the court that Mafe’s clothing and other items he was found with at the time of his arrest were still being examined, as well as video footage placing him at the scene. The NPA’s Eric Ntabazalila says Mafe’s cellphone also needed to be analyzed to determine whether he was acting alone or if there were more people involved.

The 49-year-old refuted  his ‘schizophrenia with paranoia’ diagnoses following his admission to a 30-day mental observation at Valkenberg Psychiatric Hospital, where he spent less than two weeks.

The Western Cape High court previously found that the correct court procedure was not followed, but later denied his bail appeal on grounds that insufficient evidence was provided to support his release.

The state further claims that Mafe confessed to starting the fire, citing three reasons. This includes the resignation of President Cyril Ramaphosa, the release of Chris Hani’s murderer, Janusz Walus and a R1,500 grant be provided to unemployed people.

The state is expected to oppose any appeal put forward by Mafe’s legal counsel.

The case resumes on the 25th of March 2022.


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