Aerial footage on television shows huge flames rising from the roof. The sprawling Victorian edifice with a brick red and white facade, comprising several buildings, is shrouded in a thick cloud of black smoke.
No casualties have been reported so far.
The streets of the upscale neighborhood were quickly cordoned off. The security cordon extends to the flowers still spread on the forecourt of the neighboring Saint-Georges Cathedral, where the funeral of Desmond Tutu, the last hero of the anti-apartheid struggle who died on December 26, took place the day before. That very morning at dawn, his ashes were interred in the church in a private ceremony.
The fire broke out around 5 a.m. local time, according to the emergency services. A thick column of smoke was visible from several kilometers away, journalists from theAFP. Distraught Captonians waking up quickly shared photos on social networks.
According to the first observations of the firefighters, the fire started from the old building housing the National Assembly before spreading. The roof of the current Assembly has been affected:
The roof caught fire and the National Assembly building is also on fire, said Jean-Pierre Smith, responsible for the city’s fire and rescue services.
A team of thirty firefighters who arrived first on the scene battled the flames for several hours before having to retreat from the intensity of the fire and call for reinforcements. About 80 firefighters are currently on the ground. Some try, equipped with a water lance from the top of a crane, to calm the fire.
The fire is not under control and cracks in the walls of the building have been reported, warned Mr. Smith.efloor, the first elements indicate that it started in the offices before spreading to the gymnasium “,” text “:” The fire is currently mounted on the 3rd floor, the first elements indicate that it started in the offices before spread to the gym “}}”>The fire is currently mounted at 3e floor, the first elements indicate that it started in the offices before spreading to the gymnasium, he continued, admitting to fear
The emergency services fear that the fire will spread quickly in these old rooms adorned with rich carpets and curtains. The origin of the fire is not yet known, investigators are on site.
It was in parliament that the last white South African president to die last month, FW de Klerk, announced in February 1990 the end of the racist apartheid regime.
The city was already the victim of a major fire in April. A fire on Table Mountain overlooking the coastal city had spread and destroyed treasures in the library of the prestigious University of Cape Town below.
Cape Town is the seat of the Parliament made up of the National Assembly and an upper house called the National Council of Provinces, while the government is based in Pretoria.