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Committees discuss safety after death of Parliament employee

Since Lennox Garane’s death questions have been raised about security at Parliament and how he was able to bring a gun onto the premises.

FILE: Minister of Police Bheki Cele. Picture: @SAgovnews/Twitter

CAPE TOWN - Parliament has held a special meeting to discuss security following a suicide in the precinct two weeks ago.

Members of Parliament (MPs) from the police and public works committees had to cut short their constituency period to attend the meeting attended by Police Minister Bheki Cele and National Police Commissioner Khehla Sitole.

Parliamentary staffer Lennox Garane shot and killed himself in his office earlier this month, raising concerns about security in Parliament.

Police say their approach to parliamentary security is in line with international standards, but there are still some shortcomings.

MPs have heard how there have been no security improvements since the Fees Must Fall student protests three years ago when a number of breaches were reported.

Police committee chairperson Francois Beukman said: “In terms of the presentation that was made by the parliamentary researchers, certain gaps were identified in 2015. Now it’s three years later, those gaps are still there.”

The police's Major General Leon Rabie says Garane’s bag was not scanned when he entered the precinct.

“[The security officer] that was on duty at the time contravened the security standard operating procedure by allowing Mr Garane to gain access to the building without being screened. An inquest has been registered.”

Meanwhile, his family say his death was triggered by more than just a dispute over his employment contract, and it's encouraging other employees who are being victimised to speak out.

Garane’s family said there is more to his death than meets the eye.

His son Sthembiso said Parliament’s employees should not be fearful to speak out.

“My father left us names and documents and I don’t think he left those for no particular reason. He thought that maybe those documents that he left behind will take the matter further and that is what we’re trying to do. We are trying to get justice for him.”

Parliament says its inquiry will create an opportunity for those affected to present evidence and to help the institution prevent a repeat occurrence.

(Edited by Mihlali Ntsabo)

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