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UCT, parliament and St George's Cathedral — Cape Town fires that have shocked us this year

07 February 2022 - 14:00
The National Assembly building was extensively damaged during a fire last month.
The National Assembly building was extensively damaged during a fire last month.
Image: Esa Alexander

Just over a month into the new year the City of Cape Town has been hit by several fires at prominent landmarks. 

Most recently, a fire broke out at St George's Cathedral in the early hours of Sunday.

Firefighters attended the scene after receiving an emergency call regarding smoke coming from the basement of the cathedral at 1.52am. 

Dean of the cathedral, Rev Michael Weeder, suspected arson.

“It appears that a lit piece of cotton or gauze was thrown through the small, barred window near the steps leading up to the cathedral's Wale Street entrance. Someone was spotted running away from the cathedral,” said Weeder in a social media post on Sunday.

He said there was no discernible damage to the property and further assessments will be done in the basement, which is now inaccessible. 

Weeder said on Monday city authorities had obtained a statement from a passer-by who witnessed the fire. 

Parliament

The new National Assembly building and the third and fifth floors of the old National Assembly building were destroyed during the fire that broke out at parliament on January 2.

The city deployed more than 300 firefighters to extinguish the blaze over 71 hours.

Suspect Zandile Mafe, 49, is charged with several crimes, including arson, relating to the fire.

He was denied bail on Friday during a court appearance in the Cape Town regional court. 

UCT

A fire broke out on the slopes above the University of Cape Town’s sports centre on January 6, but was quickly contained. There was no damage to property or loss of human life. 

Vice-chancellor Prof Mamokgethi Phakeng said the fire was reported at 11.30pm by UCT campus protection services patrol officers and it was declared fully contained at 1.45am.

An investigation into the cause of the fire was launched. 

In April last year, hundreds of students were evacuated from on-campus residences at UCT after a fire broke out and spread to six buildings, including the Jagger Library.

The fire had started in the Table Mountain National Park before it spread to the university. 

An investigation concluded in June revealed that an object thrown from a moving car started the fire. Authorities said this was revealed by CCTV footage. 

SANParks appealed to anyone who had information to share it with the authorities.


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