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Security beefed up at the National Assembly precinct

Sep 27, 2018
Security beefed up at the National Assembly precinct

Police have told Members of Parliament that from next month, police will implement more stringent security measures at all access points following a recent incident where a Parliamentary staffer smuggled in a firearm before taking his own life.

While the current session of Parliament is in recess, Members of Parliament were recalled from the constituency period to be part of the Portfolio Committee that was convened on an urgent basis after the suicide.

SA Police Service’s Major General Leon Rabie conceded that there were shortcomings in as far as security measures on the precinct were concerned – from the implementation of security measures to ensuring that physical security equipment were in adequate working order.

He said with effect from 1 October 2018, permit holders must produce permits for identification purposes and wear them visibly.

“All permit holders will in future make a declaration to the designated security official [to state] whether they are in possession of any firearms or harmful objects.

“All permit holders will be subjected to a screening process, as stipulated within the security policy of Parliament and all vehicles entering the Parliamentary precinct must be in possession of the required vehicle permit disk and vehicles will be searched according to the searching procedures,” he said.

Rabie said a request will be sent to the Speaker of Parliament Baleka Mbete to enforce the establishment of a Joint Planning Committee at Parliament in accordance with the National Key Point Act, which will pave way for regular stakeholder engagement on challenges with equipment, layout of access points and to maximise the utilisation of technology in the securing of the Parliamentary precinct.

He said police would also enhance the deployment of Static Protection officers in Parliament. The outer perimeter, where there are six vehicle and pedestrian access control points, will see the number of Static Protectors being increased from a maximum of two officers to five officers.

The inner perimeter, where there are 16 access control points, will also see the similar increased deployment.

Rabie said Static Protectors have, following the incident, already been briefed with regard to improved security measures and that a checklist for supervisors to ensure compliance with standing operating procedures has already been implemented.

Refresher courses are being rolled out for Static Officers.

Details of the suicide incident revealed

In what has been described as the most unfortunate incident to happen in the precinct in years, the morning of Friday, 14 September 2018, started out in a state of confusion after staffers heard a gunshot that later ended in a cloud of sadness.

At 9:55am that day, Lennox Garane, who was part of the International Relations and Policy Analysis in Parliament, arrived at Parliament’s 90 Plein Street Building basement area and entered through the basement’s access point.

According to Rabie, Garane presented his permit in the direction of the Police’s Static Protector and walked through the access point without placing his bag through the x-ray machine.

Rabie said according to a co-worker, Garane appeared to be despondent when he arrived at his office and uttered the words “wishing to say farewell”.

Shortly thereafter, a staffer from Parliament’s Wellness and Health section was called in to speak to Garane in his office.

Upon observing that Garane was not looking all too well, the staffer went on to arrange for an ambulance to take him to hospital.

It was after this that Garane locked his office and later, one of Garane’s colleagues heard a gunshot and called the Division Protection and Security Services (PSS).

The SAPS’ Static Response Team responded to the scene. Because Garane had locked his door, when they peeped through the window on the door, the response team were confronted with Garane sitting on a couch with a wound to his head and what appeared to be a firearm on his chest.

The door was forcefully opened and Garane was found with a bullet wound to his head and declared dead on the scene by the emergency services.

Rabie said the firearm used in the incident, which is a licensed CZ 9mm short pistol, was registered in Garane’s name.

A suicide note was found on the table of one of Gerane’s colleagues.

While an inquest docket was opened at the Cape Town Central Police Station, Rabie said the member of the Static Response Team who allowed Garane to access the building without being screened was served with a suspension notice the following day, on 15 September 2018. – SAnews.gov.za

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