Police tight lipped on parliament fire investigation

The SAPS won’t confirm reports that it has suspended officers, who were on duty, the night a blaze ripped through Parliament. eNCA's Lindsay Dentlinger has more. Courtesy of #DStv403

PARLIAMENT - The SAPS won’t confirm reports that it’s suspended officers, who were on duty, the night a blaze ripped through Parliament.

But it says it’s still investigating whether there might have been negligence on the part of its members when sole suspect, Zandile Mafe, allegedly breached the parliamentary precinct.

Parliament Fire | WATCH | No Parliament protection officers on duty

Two weeks since the blaze, Police Minister Bheki Cele remains mum on the security breaches but says he will, at an appropriate time, take the country into his confidence about what transpired at Parliament.

It’s been almost three years since this Parliament passed the Critical Infrastructure Protection Act.

Its purpose is to analyse the risks and threats to the country's key infrastructure.

It also requires the Police Minister to report to Parliament  twice a year on these matters but failure to implement the law, means the country still relies on the apartheid-era National Key Points Act.

The Africa Centre for Security and Intelligence Praxis' David Africa said, "the one issue we have in South Africa as far as our security environment is concerned, and it includes the protection of critical infrastructure, is that we do not have a well-developed national security policy."

"The principled documents that we are working from are quite antiquated and are not suited for the contemporary world and the conditions in South Africa at the moment.”

Bheki Cele’s office says the ministry and the secretariat of police are still working on the regulations for the act to be operationalised.

The Africa Centre for Security and Intelligence Praxis says legislation is not the necessarily the panacea for all security problems.

The bigger issue, is one of capability.

Africa said, "the problem is that in respect of parliament and more generally, we have not invested in the right capabilities because we have not thought strategically about what kind of capabilities we require to protect our critical infrastructure in general and Parliament in particular in this instance.”

"The point where it has to start is for the executive leadership of the country to take responsibility because it’s easy to say a policeman fell asleep or didn’t do his job, but these problems are bigger than someone not watching a CCTV and not responding in time."

"Obviously, people have to be held to account at all levels, but the problem of critical infrastructure and its protection is a much bigger problem and I think in the first instance, it’s a political problem,” Africa said.

The SAPS says the suspension of members is an employer-employee related matter about which it’s not at liberty to comment publicly but a departmental investigation is underway.


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