Cape Town – Four police officers, who were on duty when the fire that gutted Parliament broke out early this month, have been suspended.
This was revealed by head of the SAPS Protection and Security Services Lieutenant-General Sam Shitlabane to MPs on Friday.
The police, the Department of Public Works and parliament were briefing members of the joint standing on the financial management of Parliament.
Shitlabane said Parliament was a National Key Point and the police had to provide protection to the institution.
Shibatlane said they have launched an investigation into the conduct of the four officers who were on duty.
He also told MPs that members of Parliament Protection Services were on compulsory leave when the fire broke out.
This was also confirmed by Speaker Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula and acting Secretary to Parliament Baby Tyawa that members of Parliament Protection Services were on compulsory leave from December 15 until January 3.
Shitlabane said some of the cameras were not working properly.
“At the time of the incident Parliament Protection Services was on compulsory leave, meaning that we did not have the advantage of being able to see what was happening inside Parliament, whether it is the National Assembly or any other building because that is monitored by Parliament Protection Services, not the police. The police are responsible for the external cameras. Parliament is constituted of three monitoring rooms, which are not integrated, which is another inhibiting factor,” said Shitlabane.
He said the fire alarm of Parliament never went off when the fire broke out.
He said the water valves were found to be closed.
Shitlabane said they have suspended four members of the police who were on duty when the fire broke out in Parliament.
“We have instituted, because we are running parallel processes, you have the criminal (investigation) that is running and you have the department that is looking at the security breach from the SAPS point of view. A departmental investigation has been instituted against the four members of the SAPS that were on duty. There is a relief commander that was on duty which is clearly specified in terms of his or her responsibility, as well as three members that were posted in two monitoring rooms,” said Shitlabane.