Public Works Minister Patricia De Lille has confirmed that the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (DPCI), also known as the Hawks, are now leading a probe into the recent fire at Parliament.
The blaze gutted parts of the parliamentary precinct on Sunday morning, 2 January 2022 – causing extensive damage to the old assembly building as well as the adjoining National Assembly building, where part of the ceiling even collapsed.
De Lille says the docket has since been handed over to the Hawks, who now have the task of getting to the bottom of the fire.
News of the fire dominated world headlines – and evidently the local news cycle. There has been a flood of reaction from South Africans, most of them criticising the absence of adequate safety preventative measures. Many also questioned why there was nobody on premises who, at the very least, could have actively reacted – but it has since been learnt that there was no security staff because Parliament cannot afford to pay overtime.
DE LILLE: SUSPECT ARRESTED INSIDE BUILDING OVER PARLIAMENT FIRE
Further explaining why the Hawks have taken over the probe into the fire at Parliament, Patricia De Lille says it is part of the elite crime-busting unit’s mandate to investigate any attack on political institutions.
De Lille also revealed that the suspect who was arrested in connection with the fire, was handcuffed inside Parliament. He was also seen on Parliament’s CCTV footage.
“I can confirm from (Western Cape SAPS commissioner Thembisile) Patekile, the docket is handed over to the Hawks. It is the role of the Hawks to investigate attacks on political institutions”
Public Works Minister Patricia De Lille
The minister says she will receive a full report on the matter on Monday, 3 January 2022. She added that there was a fire drill before Parliament closed to test whether fire sprinklers were working as standard procedure.
“The drill was done and everything was in order. Someone closed one of the valves, so there was no water to trigger the automatic sprinkler system coming on,” De Lille said.