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Parliament staff ‘not to blame’ for security breach

EFF MPs clashed with security & property was damaged during the president’s Q&A in the House last month.

FILE: EFF MP Nazier Paulsen is forcefully removed from the National Assembly along with other party members on 17 May 2016. Picture: Aletta Harrison/EWN.

CAPE TOWN - Parliament says an internal probe has found its staff members are not to blame for the serious breach of security in the precinct last month.

During President Jacob Zuma's appearance in the National Assembly on 17 May, Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) Members of Parliament (MPs) clashed with security and property was damaged when supporters forced their way through the corridors during the frenzy.

EFF leader Julius Malema's private security had also allegedly entered the chamber to protect him during the brawl, prompting a call from the African National Congress (ANC) and Democratic Alliance (DA) for Parliament to investigate.

LISTEN: _EFF members forcibly removed from Parliament. _

Parliament spokesperson Luzuko Jacobs says the culprits responsible for the chaos have been identified and a report will be handed to the police.

He says no staff members will be held accountable for the breach.

"We do not have any information at present which suggests that any official or officials might have been culpable in this regard."

But DA Chief Whip John Steenhuisen says this isn't good enough.

"Their job is to secure the precinct of Parliament. Where there is a failure to protect the precinct, they must be held accountable for that breach."

Steenhuisen says Secretary to Parliament Gengezi Mgidlana must shoulder the blame for not ensuring Parliamentary security officials were properly identified that day.

"A stranger, who we don't even known, whether they were armed or unarmed, made their way amongst MPs on to the floor of Parliament and involved themselves in a fist fight on the floor. This is a serious breach of security protocol and policy and it's astounding that no one is held accountable."

GAPS IN SECURITY

Jacobs says the incidents in Parliament have exposed gaps in security.

"Following 17 May, Parliament has conducted a serious review of its security capacity, to look at the deficiencies and weaknesses in our system so that we prevent a recurrence of the incidents we witnessed."

Parliament says it will ensure security staff wear tags, making them easily identifiable while they carry out their duties in the precinct.

WATCH: EFF members on the rampage at Parliament.

The ANC, meanwhile, wants police to conclude its probe as soon as possible.

Spokesperson for the ANC in Parliament, Moloto Mothapo, says those responsible for damaging parliamentary property and illegally entering the chamber should be criminally charged.

The EFF was unavailable for comment.

The party had previously questioned why the Zuma's guards were allowed into the chamber.

SECURITY BREACHES IN 2015

In contrast, and in an unrelated matter, Parliament's security head, Zelda Holtzman and her deputy were placed on precautionary suspension over "alleged security breaches" last year.

However, she regards her suspension as sanction for speaking out against the secretary to Parliament's alleged abuse of state resources.

Holtzman was acquitted of most of the charges.

When asked why action was taken against Holtzman and not in this case, Jacobs responded that the two cases are different.