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Parliament is a crime hot spot: Heads must roll for security breach and fire

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UNDER FIRE: A blaze broke out at the National Assembly

Our Parliament – much like our country – is a crime hot spot.

Our Parliament – much like our country – is a crime hot spot.

That much is clear now, after images of our National Assembly in flames were broadcast around the world this week.

Nearly as dramatic as the movie posters for Independence Day or White House Down.

But instead of aliens invading in colossal UFOs or heavily-armed terrorists blowing up the White House, our Legislature allegedly came under attack from a poor, unemployed man who had been roaming the streets.

Which plot is the most far-fetched? You decide.

Remember, it took a 800-strong mob of Donald Trump supporters to storm the Capitol in Washington a year ago.

SIEGE: Trump supporters stormed the Capitol a year ago. Picture: Reuters

Yep, that’s how vulnerable our beacon of democracy stands.

Much like the general crime problem in South Africa, no one is taking charge and responsibility for security at Parly.

National Assembly speaker Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula says there hasn’t been a head of security since Zelda Holtzman resigned five years ago.

Parliament has had a number of security breaches in recent years, including burglaries at MPs’ offices; and a senior official smuggling in a gun which he used to take his life in his office.

There’s been other high-profile shenanigans in the House, like unruly EFF members being moered out of sittings by heavy-handed Parliament security.

Parly managers have been known to cover up – or show a lack of transparency – when things go wrong.

Like the time when the department of state security illegally jammed the internet signal, to prevent the media from reporting on ructions during the State of the Nation Address in 2016.

Where there’s smoke, there’s fire.

Now, more than before, suspicion is rife that Government is trying to cover up a major act of sabotage, and is using arme Zandile Christmas Mafe as a scapegoat.

‘SCAPEGOAT’: Zandile Mafe. Picture: Phando Jikelo/African News Agency(ANA)

The Khayelitsha man has been charged with two counts of arson and two counts of housebreaking with intent to steal, and theft.

He is also accused of stealing laptops, crockery, documents and placing and discharging explosives or volatile liquids with the intent to cause damage to the Parliament building.

That’s a lot, hey?

His lawyer, Luvuyo Godla, points out that his client simply isn’t capable of conceiving or executing such a well-coordinated act of treason.

And he rightly calls the whole fiasco a “failure of the executive and legislature”.

“What interest would that poor man have in burning Parliament?” he asks.

“How would that person get access to Parliament and how would he know where to go in Parliament and burn?

“He was not in possession of anything, in fact, he denies vehemently those charges. He rejects those charges.

“Why would private security and the police not be present at the place where they are supposed to be?

“We don’t even know how long it took for them to arrive.

“It can’t be that if you come across someone wandering around a certain proximity to the crime scene… and therefore assume that he is the person.”

Apparently security cameras spotted an intruder in the precinct, and fire sensors did detect smoke in the early hours of Sunday morning.

But what about Minister of Public Works Patricia de Lille’s suggestions that the CCTV footage was not being monitored?

And that the fire sprinkler system valve had been suspiciously switched off?

All good questions and valid points, which government must answer with urgency and transparency.

Because right now, the South African public is not buying the story that one poor man pulled off such a stunning attack on a national key point.

Other conspiracy theories doing the rounds are that someone was trying to destroy State Capture evidence.

Then there was a claim by Nehawu that Parliament’s security officers were not on duty when the fire broke out due to recent cost-cutting measures.

There’s just too many unanswered questions, speculation and a lack of unaccountability.

Government must come clean and heads must roll for this.

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