South Africa: Investigation opened after a fire at an air base

Johannesburg | The South African army is investigating the origin of a fire on Sunday at its main air base, near Pretoria, where the executive sits, just weeks after the destruction by fire of its Parliament.

The fire started around 7 p.m. (1700 GMT) in a fuel storage section of Waterkloof Air Force Base, the army said in a statement. The fire was extinguished within an hour and no structural damage was reported.

“The cause of the fire, the extent of the damage (…) will be part of an investigation which will interrogate all the events and/or incidents which may have led to the outbreak of the fire”, declared the South African National Defense Force.

In early January, a huge fire damaged the Parliament building in Cape Town and a man smashed windows in the Constitutional Court, the country’s highest court in Johannesburg, with a hammer, raising concerns about the safety of public buildings.

President Cyril Ramaphosa said such incidents undermined the country’s security and stability.

Waterkloof became infamous in 2016 when a wealthy family of Indian origin, the Guptas, close to then-President Jacob Zuma, who has since been accused of massive corruption, used the base generally reserved for presidents, heads of Visiting state and diplomats, to bring guests to a wedding.

The Guptas, who have since left South Africa, are at the center of a massive state corruption scandal and their illicit activities have reportedly cost the country more than $3 billion.

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