South Africa

South Africa parliament fire flares up again

Flames were seen billowing from the building's roof on Monday, as firefighters tried to douse the blaze.

The fire first broke out on Sunday and completely destroyed the National Assembly, or lower chamber.

Police have arrested a suspect who will appear in court on Tuesday on charges of arson, housebreaking and theft.

Fire rips through South Africa's parliament building

Video footage showed a plume of black smoke filling the sky, with huge flames coming out from the roof of the building.

President Cyril Ramaphosa visited the scene and called it a "terrible and devastating event".

A 51-year-old man was being held and questioned by the authorities, police said.

The blaze, which began shortly after 6am local time came the day after Archbishop Desmond Tutu's state funeral at St George's Cathedral, near Parliament.

South Africa bids farewell to Archbishop Desmond Tutu

"Our departed father was a crusader in the struggle for freedom, for justice, for equality and for peace, not just in South Africa, the country of his birth, but around the world," Ramaphosa said, delivering the main eulogy at the service in St George's Cathedral, Cape Town, where for years Tutu preached against racial injustice.

The president then handed over the national flag to Tutu's widow, Nomalizo Leah, known as "Mama Leah". Tutu, who was awarded the Nobel Peace prize in 1984 for his non-violent opposition to white minority rule, died last Sunday aged 90.

South Africa ends night-time curfew

A government statement said the Omicron variant, while highly transmissible, had seen lower hospitalisation rates than previous waves.

There had been "a marginal increase" in the number of deaths, it added.

The variant - first reported by South Africa last month - is spreading fast elsewhere leading to widespread curbs.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has warned of a "tsunami" of infections from Delta and Omicron variants that could overwhelm health systems.

But in South Africa, the government announced on Thursday that some rules were being relaxed.

‘We looked up to him’: South Africa begins week of mourning for Desmond Tutu

The beloved anti-apartheid hero will lie in state for two days in Cape Town before a funeral on 1 January.

Tributes to Tutu, described as the “moral compass” of his country, have poured in from around the world since his death in a Cape Town care home, as a series of events commemorating his life and achievements begin.

“A universal spirit, Archbishop Tutu was grounded in the struggle for liberation and justice in his own country, but also concerned with injustice everywhere,” former US president Barack Obama said in a statement.

South Africa mourns anti-apartheid hero

The plans include two days of lying in state before an official state funeral on 1 January in Cape Town.

Tributes have been pouring in from leaders around the world, including Pope Francis, US President Joe Biden and the UK's Queen Elizabeth II.

Tutu was one of the country's best known figures at home and abroad.

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said in a statement that Tutu had helped bring about "a liberated South Africa".

South Africa urges halt to Nelson Mandela's Robben Island prison cell key auction

The sale is due in January in New York by Guernsey's auction house. The seller is Christo Brand, Mandela's former prison guard in the notorious jail.

But Nathi Mthethwa, South Africa's culture minister, said there had been no consultation with the government.

"This key belongs to the people of South Africa," he said.

"It is not anyone's personal belonging," the minister added.

Guernsey's says its planned auction on 28 January is to raise funds for a memorial garden and museum around Mandela's burial site.

NSW relaxes quarantine rules on arrivals from southern African nations

The measures put in place to stem the seeding of the Covid-19 Omicron variant were to end at 6am on Wednesday, NSW Health announced late on Tuesday.

Instead, fully vaccinated people arriving from South Africa, Lesotho, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Mozambique, Namibia, Eswatini and Malawi must self-isolate for 72 hours and can leave after receiving a negative test.

They must also avoid high-risk settings for seven days.

First data points to Omicron re-infection risk

Scientists have detected a surge in the number of people catching Covid-19 multiple times.

It is a rapid analysis and not definitive, but fits with concern about the mutations the variant possesses.

It is also unclear what this means for the protection given by vaccines.

A week after the variant was named Omicron, the world is still scrambling to understand the true threat posed by the variant. But now the first of pieces of a large and complex puzzle are starting to be assembled.

Dozens test positive on SA-Netherlands flights

They have been placed in isolation at a hotel near Schiphol airport.

They were among some 600 passengers held for several hours after arrival while they were tested for the virus.

Dutch health authorities said Omicron, labelled on Friday as a variant of concern, was "probably found in a number of people" who tested positive.

Other European countries, including the UK and Germany, have confirmed cases of the Omicron variant.