Police responsible for access to Parly on night of fire, MPs told

Parliament and the Department of Public Works and Infrastructure on Friday briefed a joint committee on the investigation and extent of the damage.

FILE: Flames arise from the National Assembly, the main chamber of the South African Parliament buildings, after a fire that broke out the day before restarted, in Cape Town, on 3 January 2022. Picture: RODGER BOSCH/AFP

CAPE TOWN - Parliament said that access to the building when the devastating fire happened was the responsibility of the police.

Parliament and the Department of Public Works and Infrastructure on Friday briefed a joint committee on the investigation and extent of the damage.

Officials from Parliament and the department defended their roles in the lead-up to the fire, saying that fire hydrants and sprinklers were inspected regularly.

Parliament’s management had asked MPs to give it seven days to answer a number of questions on how Parliament was breached and what the cause of the fire was.

Acting secretary Baby Tyawa has confirmed that on the night of the incident, protection officials were on compulsory leave but on standby.

She said that the police were in charge of access control during this period.

"However, there’s always a standby team where members needing to access their offices are called in to come. Then the role of the SAPS is as a national key point, they’re charged to control access into the perimeter. They’re supposed to be patrolling and monitoring the cameras that are around the whole of Parliament," Tyawa said.

Department of Public Works official Thembeka Kolele said that action would be taken against officials who were responsible for not servicing the sprinklers.

"We can confirm on this platform PWI is reviewing the evidence of works and will implement consequence management if the necessary servicing has not been undertaken," Kolele said.

The department said that it would be putting out a tender for further forensic work on the precinct.