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SAPS and Cape Town fire department to be invited to report on Parliament fire

Picture: Phando Jikelo/African News Agency (ANA) Archives

Picture: Phando Jikelo/African News Agency (ANA) Archives

Published Jan 15, 2022


Cape Town – The City of Cape Town fire department and the police are set to be invited to make presentations on the fire and what happened when parts of Parliament were gutted weeks ago.

This after MPs expressed their wish that the two institutions make presentations at their meeting next week.

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There have been questions after a person gained access to the parliamentary precinct in the early hours of the morning of the day the fire broke out.

It has been confirmed that nobody was monitoring the CCTV cameras on the morning of the incident.

The fire department last week made public a damning report by its officials that revealed that the fire sprinkler system was last serviced in 2017, among others.

Briefing the MPs on Friday along with officials from the Department of Public Works and Infrastructure, acting secretary to Parliament Baby Tyawa said the parliamentary protection services stopped working on weekends and public holidays since Coivid-19 broke out in March 2020.

“The work of securing the precinct was given to SAPS as, indeed, this is a National Key Point,” Tyawa said.

She also confirmed that on January 2 – the day of the fire – all parliamentary staff were on compulsory leave between December 16 and January 3.

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“We did not have officials on the night the fire happened. Their schedule on the precinct was to start on January 3 and the fire happened on January 2,” she said, adding that there was a standby team when MPs needed to access their offices,“ she said.

Tyawa also said the SAPS were in charge of the control access to the precinct and were supposed to patrol and monitor the CCTV cameras.

“At the bottom of 100 Plein Street we have a monitoring system that is managed by SAPS. The alleged breach of security is a matter of investigation and I would not speak much about it,” she said.

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DA MP Tim Brauteseth said he has never seen active police patrols on the perimeter of parliament since he became an MP a few years ago.

He also said the SAPS should answer how the man allegedly found on the precinct gained access there.

“They cannot get away from that,” he charged.

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Brauteseth also said the presentation made by parliament and the Department of Public Works and Infrastructure on the fire and security systems were incomplete.

“We don’t have the City of Cape Town fire service giving us a presentation. We need to have the fire department of City of Cape Town invited to give their findings.

“They are literally the people at the coalface. They can report what they have seen and we can’t just accept the report by DPWI,” Brauteseth said.

NFP’s Munzoor Shaik-Emam enquired about the purpose of having the CCTV cameras if they were not monitored 24 hours, saying SAPS needed to explain why this was not done, particularly since it was known that parliamentary protection services were not present at the time.

Peace Mabe, co-chairperson of the standing committee of financial management of Parliament, said they would invite the City of Cape Town fire department to present their report.

“Their report does not purport to provide conclusive findings. There is still some work to be done to reach the finding,” Mabe said.

She also said the police have been identified as a key role player in the fire.

“We will ensure that we invite them in the next meeting,” Mabe said.

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Political Bureau