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Firefighters finally leave South Africa Parliament complex

Firefighters, atop a hoist, fight the re-ignited fire at Parliament in Cape Town, South Africa, Monday, Jan 3, 2022. Firefighters are again on the sce...
This photo supplied by the City of Cape Town shows a fireman fighting a fire at the Houses of Parliament, in Cape Town, South Africa, Sunday, Jan. 2, ...
Zandile Mafe appears in the magistrates court in Cape Town, South Africa, Tuesday, Jan. 4, 2022 charged with two counts of arson, theft, housebreaking...
Firemen spray water on flames erupting from a building at South Africa's Parliament in Cape Town Sunday Jan. 2, 2022. (AP Photo/Jerome Delay)

Firefighters, atop a hoist, fight the re-ignited fire at Parliament in Cape Town, South Africa, Monday, Jan 3, 2022. Firefighters are again on the sce...

This photo supplied by the City of Cape Town shows a fireman fighting a fire at the Houses of Parliament, in Cape Town, South Africa, Sunday, Jan. 2, ...

Zandile Mafe appears in the magistrates court in Cape Town, South Africa, Tuesday, Jan. 4, 2022 charged with two counts of arson, theft, housebreaking...

Firemen spray water on flames erupting from a building at South Africa's Parliament in Cape Town Sunday Jan. 2, 2022. (AP Photo/Jerome Delay)

CAPE TOWN, South Africa (AP) — Firefighters have left South Africa's Parliament complex and handed over responsibility for it to police four days after a major blaze destroyed the main chamber of the country's national legislature, authorities said Thursday.

A man suspected of starting Sunday's fire was arrested and has appeared in court on charges of housebreaking, theft, arson and contravention of a South African security law that restricts access to government buildings. The suspect also was in possession of an explosive device, prosecutors said.

Authorities declined to speculate on the man's possible motives and have said it's too early to say if the fire was an intentional attack on the seat of South Africa's democracy. He was kept in custody ahead of a bail hearing.

Police haven’t ruled out the possibility of more arrests.

The fire broke out at the Parliament precinct in the center of Cape Town early Sunday morning and tore through the complex. It gutted the main chamber of the National Assembly building, where South Africa's Parliament sits, and caused extensive damage to other structures in the precinct, including an old Parliament building that was built during the British colonial era in the late 1800s.

Firefighters brought the inferno under control, only for it to flare up again late Monday and then again on Tuesday. They remained on site until Wednesday evening to ensure flames didn't catch again, Parliament said in a statement.

In all, 300 firefighters worked for over 71 hours to fully contain the fire, Parliament said.

A South African police unit that deals with serious or high-profile crimes has assumed control of the complex to investigate the cause of the fire.


Updated : 2022-05-17 07:08 GMT+08:00