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Lack of security

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By chance his manager was not in the office on the day and instead of a violent confrontation, the official committed suicide inside his office

Emergency vehicles could be seen outside the gates of Parliament on Friday where a staff member reportedly shot and killed himself. PHOTO: Ayanda Ndamane/African News Agency (ANA)

On Friday morning, a senior public official entered the parliamentary precinct brimming with anger and armed with a gun.

According to some of his colleagues, he had known for some time that his contract for employment would not be renewed. By chance his manager was not in the office on the day and instead of a violent confrontation, the official committed suicide inside his office.

There’s a point to be made, and right now questions are being asked about how the man managed to sneak a gun into the parliamentary precinct, which is considered to be one of the National Key Points.

But come to the National Assembly on a quiet day and you might just find that the police officers manning the turnstiles are either playing on their phones, watching TV, or like one of our parliamentary correspondents witnessed last week, watching a movie.

Since May 2014, perhaps to coincide with the emergence of the EFF, and a violent protest by #FeesMustFall activists which breached the perimeter of the parliamentary complex a year later, more stringent security measures were implemented.

Now when you arrive at Parliament’s visitors centre you are subjected to long queues, as your ID is taken, and your picture is captured in exchange for access to the building.

But three days ago, the best security system got circumvented by an employee who, his colleagues said, was intent on confronting his manager who had informed him that his contract would be terminated.

Hours after the incident, politicians were pointing the finger at the SAPS, questioning how a gun could have been brought onto the parliamentary precinct, avoiding the gaze of access control which is manned by police officers.

Now Police Commissioner Khehla Sitole will be summoned to Parliament to explain the latest security breach at the complex. Politicians will be demanding that heads should roll over this breach, which could have ended in more than one life lost in a precinct that is supposed to be among our nation’s safest areas, and which gives voice to the democracy which we cherish.