Five Parliamentary officials to face disciplinary proceedings for January 2022 fire incident

Firefighters battled the fire that broke out in the Parliament building in January 2022. Picture: Phando Jikelo/African News Agency (ANA)

Firefighters battled the fire that broke out in the Parliament building in January 2022. Picture: Phando Jikelo/African News Agency (ANA)

Published Oct 18, 2023


Five employees of Parliament have been implicated in a number of human errors and technological failures that led to the gutting by fire of the parliamentary buildings in January 2022.

“The report recommends consideration for consequence management in cases there would be breaches attributable to persons, who may be role players and charged with the responsibilities, who were found responsible or implicated in number of areas that constituted various failures, including the failure to implement security policies, ensure compliance with occupational health and safety standards and establish a security committee as required,” Secretary to Parliament Xolile George said.

George made the statement when he was briefing the media on the findings of an independent internal investigation into the fire that gutted buildings in the precinct.

He said the investigation found technological and human failures led to breaches that were attributable to the fire.

“Security enhancement arising from the breaches was highlighted in a number of crucial findings,” he said, adding that fire prevention and the security breach could have been avoided.

George said the report indicated that the fire incident could have been prevented had reasonable steps been taken to ensure those drivers of vulnerability did not materialise.

“One such measure that is also attributed to what I call human error was a decision not to deploy parliamentary protection officers at night, on public holidays and weekends during 2021-22.”

He said the situation left the national legislature vulnerable.

George also said the investigation found that systems and maintenance failures significantly contributed to the security breach and failure to prevent and contain the fire.

“These failures encompassed the height of perimeter fence, absence of perimeter monitoring in terms of physical presence of security not existing at that time.

“A malfunctioning emergency exit door was also identified on physical aspects as well as deficiencies in fire panels and unreliable fire management system.

“The absence on site of parliamentary protection officers further resulted in lack of CCTV monitoring the overall view of the precinct. In absence of people, nobody could monitor CCTV cameras whether there were attempts to breach and so on,” George said.

Cape Times