The Unravelling Supervisor | Fire doesn’t always burn clean

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Firefighters work as the parliamentary buildings burn in Cape Town on January 3.PHOTO: Gallo images
Firefighters work as the parliamentary buildings burn in Cape Town on January 3.PHOTO: Gallo images

A little pile of ash is one thing. History, art and culture, a rotting infrastructure and billions of rands wantonly flashed away are quite another. Starting a fire in the Houses of Parliament in Cape Town this week was certainly not the best way to blaze a trail for our fledgling democracy.

Quite a few global parliaments have been set alight, intentionally or accidentally, over the years, with the most notable attempt being Guy Fawkes and his seven merry men in England in 1605.

According to Antonia Fraser (The Gunpowder Plot), the jury found all the defendants guilty, and the Lord Chief Justice Sir John Popham pronounced them guilty of high treason, with prosecuting Attorney General Sir Edward Coke then telling the court that each of the condemned would be drawn backwards to his death, by a horse, his head near the ground. They were to be “put to death halfway between heaven and earth as unworthy of both”. Their genitals would be cut off and burnt before their eyes, and their bowels and hearts removed. They would then be decapitated, and the dismembered parts of their bodies displayed so that they might become “prey for the fowls of the air”.

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