Update on: fire investigation; restoration; sourcing of interim venues to host plenaries; with Minister and Deputy Minister

Joint Standing Committee on Financial Management of Parliament

23 September 2022
Chairperson: Ms D Mahlangu (ANC, Mpumalanga)
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Meeting Summary


The Joint Standing Committee on Financial Management of Parliament met virtually to receive a briefing from the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation, South African Police Services, and the Department of Public Works and Infrastructure regarding the fire incident at the Parliament precinct.

The Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation briefed the Committee and said that Mr Zandile Christmas Mafe, a 49-year-old male, residing in Khayelitsha, had been identified as a suspect on preliminary charges of housebreaking, theft and arson. The Office of the National Director of Public Prosecutions issued the Protection of Constitutional Democracy Against Terrorist and Related Activities Act certificate. The indictment was served on the accused on 2022/06/09. The matter has been postponed to 2022/11/04 for pre-trial purposes in the Western Cape High Court, as the accused refused to appear in court on 12 August 2022.

The South African Police Services indicated that it was deployed from 01 July 2022 at Cyclops [CCTV cameras control room] on an ad hoc basis to communicate with SAPS within the parliamentary precinct, to identify trespassing. There was an appointment of the designated commander for command and control and systematic vehicle as well as foot patrols within the identified zones of the parliamentary precinct.

The Members asked if the accused had cooperated with other people and if he had been mentally and psychologically checked before he was charged with terrorism. How did the accused person enter the precinct? Where were the police officers?
They also wanted to know about the state of the two police who were not found guilty, and whether they received disciplinary hearings. The Members also sought clarity on the meaning of the term ‘volunteers’, who are currently guarding the parliamentary precincts. Are they checked? Are they members of the South African Police Services? Is there any written agreement between the South African Police Services and the City of Cape Town?

The presentation by the Coega Development Corporation covered the extent of the fire damage, restoration options, estimated costs, cost comparison and anticipated timelines for the old and new buildings of the Parliament of South Africa.

The Committee asked about the state of the cancelled presentation from National Treasury, considering the pointers made by the Department of Public Works and Infrastructure today. What is the value of the damaged material that will be recycled? How can Members get the personal belongings they had left in the building before the fire?

There were concerns about the capability of the Department of Public Works and Infrastructure to deliver such huge projects without corruption, money mismanagement, overruns and delays. When will the Committee be briefed on the meeting outcome between the parliamentary secretary, the Department and National Treasury? Members proposed an oversight meeting at Parliament to ensure that there are security monitoring centres.

Meeting report

Chairperson Mahlangu greeted and welcomed everyone to the meeting.
Apologies were received from the Speaker of the National Assembly and Ms R Lesoma (ANC).
Mr B Radebe (ANC) moved for the adoption of the agenda.

Ms R Van Schalkwyk (ANC) seconded the motion.

National Council of Provinces (NCOP) Chairperson, Mr Amos Masondo, said that the first presentation will strike a balance, assist the Committee in getting the information required, and provide some guidance on the fire incident without compromising that matter will be deliberated today.

Briefing by the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation
Gen (Dr/Adv) Godfrey Lebeya, DPCI National Head, delivered the presentation. On 02 January 2022, members of the South African Police Service (SAPS), stationed at Parliament in Cape Town, saw that smoke was coming from the Old Assembly building of Parliament. Mr Zandile Christmas Mafe, a 49-year-old male residing in Khayelitsha, was identified as a suspect on preliminary charges of housebreaking, theft and arson. The crime scene was handed to the DPCI, and an investigating officer from the Section Crimes Against the State was appointed.

During the interview, Mr Mafe made certain statements regarding the reasons for causing the fire, which will be part of evidence in court. The Provincial Anti-Corruption Unit recorded the confession of Mr Mafe. Mr Mafe was officially charged and made his first court appearance in Cape Town District Court on 04 January 2022. The case was then postponed to 11 January 2022, for bail particulars.

During the investigation, more than 30 hours of video footage was gathered, showing Mr Mafe moving around in Parliament. The statement of Captain Nigrini, relating to the downloading of video footage at Parliament, was obtained and filed. The investigation in the said matter has been completed. The final report, regarding the structural damages to Parliament buildings, was obtained from the Department of Public Works and Infrastructure (DPWI) and filed in the case docket.

The Protection of Constitutional Democracy Against Terrorist and Related Activities Act (POCDATARA) certificate was issued by the Office of the National Director of Public Prosecutions (NDPP), and the indictment was served on the accused on 09 June 2022. The matter has been postponed to 2022/11/04 for pre-trial purposes in the Western Cape High Court, as the accused refused to appear in court on 12 August 2022. He had embarked on a hunger strike during the last week prior to his court appearance. The accused lost his appeal application against the Western Cape Regional Court ruling not to grant him bail. The accused is currently in custody at Pollsmoor.

See presentation attached for full details

Briefing by the South African Police Services
The presentation was delivered by Lt. Gen. Samson Shitlabane, Divisional Commissioner: Protection and Security Services, SAPS.

Situational analysis of the current status of monitoring centers/ management of monitoring room of Parliament
There are two existing monitoring rooms within the parliamentary precinct, used as a tool to monitor the security of Parliament. Integrated personnel were deployed, and there was one command structure within the control centre as of 01 September 2022, to view closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras within the centre. This integration will be expanded from 100 Plein Street to Tuynhyus.
Intervention measures: monitoring rooms
A meeting was held with the City of Cape (CoCT) on 28 June 2022 to align the integration of monitoring the cameras of the outer Parliament perimeter.
Further, SAPS was deployed from 01 July 2022 at Cyclops on an ad hoc basis to communicate with SAPS within the parliamentary precinct, to identify trespassing. There was an appointment of the designated commander for command and control and systematic vehicle as well as foot patrols within the identified zones of the parliamentary precinct.
Intervention measures: command and control of personnel
Based on the assessment findings, the following measures have been introduced to enhance the security at Parliament:
-An appointment of the designated commander for Parliament for command and control,
-Additional responsibility was incorporated in the job description of supervisors to visit the monitoring rooms and implementation of the handing over during shift change, 
-Integrated personnel deployed and one command structure for the purpose of viewing CCTV cameras within the control centre,
-Systematic vehicle and foot patrols within the identified zones of the parliamentary precinct.
-4 metres of barbed wire was placed in Government Lane
-800 metres of barbed wire and speed fencing was placed at Parliament Avenue
-40 – 50 meters of speed fencing was placed between the corners of Tuynhuys and Slave Lodge

Medium term approach
-Request Parliament to feed all CCTV cameras, including inner perimeter, to Tuynhuys monitoring room.
-Review of Security Awareness Programme every six months within the static environment
- Re-establishment of monthly lectures within the Static environment with effect from 1 September 2022.
- Rotation of Shift Commanders and Supervisors, bi-annually, on 1 April 2023.
-Enhance command and control visitation to Parliament Precinct and Tuynhuys monitoring centre by Senior Officers- 1 February 2023.
-Review of E-Relief (day shift) at Parliament Static Protection Services to increase capacity incorporation within 12 hour shift system, by 1 November 2023.

Long term approach
-Updating of perimeter intruder detection beams
-Alarm detection siren system to be installed at Tuynhuys monitoring room
-Appointment of CCTV monitoring room Overall Commander
-DPWI: Identification of a company to provide comprehensive training on monitoring CCTV camera incidents.                                                                                                                                                                                                          
-Bi-Annual maintenance and training of personnel and train the trainer: supervisor: monitoring and evaluation course


Mr T Brauteseth (DA, KZN) asked what the admission by Mr Mafe (accused) means, from a forensic perspective. He said there had been a lot of conspiratorial talk around South Africa that Mr Mafe did not operate on his own. Did that admission include who he has collaborated with?
Mr M Moletsane (EFF, Free State) asked if the two police who were not found guilty were going to be kept and allowed to return to Parliament. Or are they going to be moved to some stations around Cape Town?
Ms M Siwisa (EFF) asked if there were any suspects other than Mr Mafe. Was there any psychological evaluation done on this particular person? What were the findings of these evaluations? Was any background check done on this particular person, because terrorism is a heavy word to charge this person under? She added that the relocation of the suspect from different provinces must also be taken into account. Did the police make follow-ups with the conspiracy theories? She asked for the disciplinary report on the two police officers who were not found guilty. What were their merits? Parliament would not have been burnt to such an extent if they were on their post doing what they were supposed to be doing. A person was allowed to enter Parliament, and there was no disciplinary hearing. There was negligence at the entrance. Otherwise, these cases would not exist. What are the financial implications of SAPS such that they bring rotational volunteers to Parliament, rather than bringing in other police officers? Were voluntary contracts signed? Were there background checks conducted on these volunteers?
Mr A Shembeni (EFF) agreed with Ms Siwisa and said that volunteers cannot guard the parliamentary precinct. It is totally unacceptable. Volunteerism is not going to work in Parliament, where important people go in and out. It is a norm to have security personnel rotate shifts over three to six months, which does not involve money. People work in the offices; they can be interchanged around the government precinct. He said that the charging of the suspect is unacceptable, according to the terrorism act. Was this person checked mentally? What were the results? Terrorism is very wide. Questions about who sent him and where they came from must be asked. One individual cannot perform terrorism. How did this person enter the precinct? Where were the police officers?

Mr Radebe welcomed the two presentations, and said that they indicate that the work has been done and the state is ready to prosecute an individual. He added that the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) would not have ruled this case in court unless they were sure that there was a high probable success of the conviction of the suspect. “We have to appreciate the work done. Let us wait for the court outcome so that we do not interfere with the investigations,” he added.

He appreciated an integrated security approach between the SAPS and private security companies, at Parliament – including the consultations and involvement of the City of Cape Town (CoCT) in monitoring Parliament. Is there any written agreement between the SAPS and CoCT to prevent lapses? He suggested that all the people who are regularly involved with Parliament must offer security awareness lessons. 
Chairperson Mahlangu cautioned SAPS regarding the internal disciplinary processes issue. Who appointed the presiding officer during this disciplinary hearing? “If you are allowed to make a verdict, just be careful, because you are doing it within the prescript of your work environment to make sure that you do not infringe people’s rights. Involve the lawyers so they can give you legal advice and avoid delays at court.”


Gen Lebeya said that the information was provided in the presentation with an understanding that the current matter is sitting in court. “At some time, you will hear people speaking about the sub judice rule, commenting on matters that are still serving before the court of law. We respect that boundary, and we do not divulge much”. He said that, while the statement by the accused has been labelled as ‘confession’ and ‘admission’, it will be contested. Hence, it was quoted as ‘so-called admission’. “The statement made by the accused is bordering on what might have been a confession or an admission. When the time comes for the accused to defend himself in court, we will get clarity on the statement that has been presented”. He indicated that part of the investigation is looking at the possibility of third-party involvement in the case. '' Rest assured that no stone was left unturned in coming to the conclusion that we are now ready to go to court. Whatever evidence might come at a later stage, including during the hearing, will be pursued. At this stage, we could only link the accused that is now standing in court”. He said that the individuals made various statements and comments in the public space, some of whom could not provide affidavits. He added that the investigations are conducted in a manner that the background checks of an individual and the psychological evaluations are checked. “Hence, we know where the individual is coming from. That is also why you know through the media what happened when we visited the residential address of the accused person.”

He highlighted that the mental stability matter was also dealt with in court. Should the court be of the opinion that there are questions around the mental aspect of the suspect, they will require further evaluations. He assured the Members that the investigators had worked closely with the prosecutors. “Whatever is done, it is what needs to be done in line with the law.” He added that the matter had been handled by the jurisdiction at both provincial and national levels. The law is careful in creating a charge sheet relating to the charge referred to. It does not allow the director of public prosecution on the provincial level to make a decision. The advocates on provincial level study the matter and recommend to the national level of public prosecution to look at the available evidence and decide whether the evidence on hand suggests that the accused person has indeed committed the provisions of the POCDATARA. Hence, the prosecution is only based on the certificate that the national director of public prosecutions has issued.
Lt Gen Shitlabane said that the SAPS members that have been in charge would have been placed temporarily at different stations. “We (and the provincial head) have issues with that instruction, and we had a discussion with the provisional commissioner. However, we still need to conclude on the departmental steps that need to be taken that will include phasing them within the parliamentary precinct or any strategic installations and national key points.” He said ‘volunteers’ refers to the SAPS workers working within the environment. Regarding the Labour Act, a shift worker works for 12 hours, which is two day and two-night shifts, and rest for two days. But, because we have a shortage of personnel, we requested members working in Parliament to volunteer, which means they get paid overtime. Hence, I said that it is an expensive exercise, although we are managing given the budgetary constraints.” He added that there is no need for background checks, because the SAPS already possess security clearances. There were members of the SAPS on duty when Mr Mafe was arrested. A duty list and roster were checked, and SAPS members were questioned. Through investigation, four members, including the relief commander, were charged. “They were on duty, hence we charged them through an elaborative process so that the divisional/provincial/national commissioner would appreciate any suction. A letter gets written to our legal services to review the charged members, because we are allowed to say that we are not happy with the sanction, given the magnitude of the damage and the security breach that occurred. It then goes through to the state attorney, before getting to court.” He added that the disciplinary hearing must be a fair process based on thorough investigation and outcome.

Lt. Gen. Shitlabane said there is no written agreement between SAPS and CoCT, rather than a unified commitment to protect Parliament through minutes and discussions. He added that the removal of barbed wire was requested to be in written format.

Maj. Gen. Moutlane, Division: Protection Services, appreciated the advice to formalise an agreement through a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the SAPS and CoCT, pertaining to the implementation of extending the integration of monitoring systems.

Minister’s Remarks

Patricia De Lille, Minister of Public Works and Infrastructure, said that the presentation will cover phase two, and will expand on the extent of the damage, restoration options, estimated costs, cost comparison and anticipated timelines for the old and new buildings of the Parliament of South Africa.
Briefing by the Coega Development Corporation
The presentation was presented by Mr Christo Beukes, Project Manager at Coega Development Corporation (CDC).

Mr Beukes provided a background to the discussion. A detailed assessment of the Old Assembly, New Assembly and Lin buildings were provided.
Members were taken through the restoration options including reconstruction like-for-like, internal rebuilding and demolishing and rebuilding to pre-fire condition (for New Assembly only). Internal rebuilding was recommended with a particular scope of work for the Old and New Assembly buildings.
[See presentation document for details on restoration measures and projected costs]

The Minister said that the Department is awaiting further instructions from Parliament and executive authority on how to proceed. The Department received a report at the end of May, and requested a date to brief Parliament. Parliament was in recess between 15 June 2022 and 16 August 2022. The Department was given 09 September 2022 to present, which was shifted to today.
Mr Xolile George, Secretary to Parliament, said that he and the Acting Directors-General of Public Works and National Treasury would convene a meeting to discuss the implementation scope to have a firm proposed approach on the matter.
Ms S Gwarube (DA) asked how the DPWI work links with the engagement with National Treasury. She asked this question because the Committee had two cancelled meetings the previous week. The presentation from National Treasury, on the costs related to rebuilding the Parliament, was to form part of these meetings. What is the state of the presentation from National Treasury, based on what the DPWI presented today? She said that SAPS indicated the removal of the external fencing from Parliament to reopen some areas around the parliamentary precinct. Why are the sections of Parliament not affected by the fire remaining closed?

Mr Shembeni was concerned about unfinished projects under the present government that are tabled for conclusion in 2025. He is concerned about the construction, pricing and timeframes. “We were supposed to have started with this project.” What is the value of the damaged material that will be recycled? “You cannot give the construction companies that amount. It is a lot of millions, considering the cables and other materials.”

Ms Lesoma asked the Secretary to Parliament what would happen to personal belongings damaged by the fire in the Old and New Assembly Buildings, considering that the Parliament is not insured. She asked the DPWI and the SAPS not to report to the other committees on the same day that they are scheduled to report progress and issues, to this Committee. “It seems that there are various forums they are reporting to, instead of this Committee – which is responsible for Parliament management.”

Ms Siwisa agreed with Mr Shembeni regarding the timeframes of the outstanding projects. “We know DPWI has a financial crisis that leads to delayed projects”. What guarantee do we have that the timelines the DPWI put forward will be completed on time? Will the CDC be given the mandate to complete all the projects?

Mr M Rayi (ANC, Eastern Cape) thought that the report was brought early to the Joint Standing Committee (JSC) before the executive authority processed it. “It is hard to contribute to a matter that is still being processed. When will the JSC be briefed on the outcome of the meeting between the Secretary to Parliament, DPWI and National Treasury? What is the role of the CDC beyond the submission of the assessment in May? How do you assure the Members of Parliament that there would be no corruption and delays while restoring the parliamentary buildings? Will this huge project consider real-time audits rather than waiting for a normal audit to occur? Can the contracts of the scheduled projects include clauses of penalty to punish overruns, because there are already estimated contingencies and escalations?” Mr Rayi said that a Member from a hybrid NCOP meeting had expressed concern about the danger posed by the asbestos in the air, for the Members who are physically attending the plenary sessions.

Mr Radebe agreed with Mr Rayi on the premature presentation by the DPWI to the JSC. “We must never encroach on the mandates of other entities of the state. The mandate of the National Treasury is to guard the financial interests and resources of the state. The DPWI is the custodian of the state property. The parliamentary mandate is to be the custodian of the democracy of the country. I am happy with the comment from the secretary of Parliament that there will be a meeting between the National Treasury, Parliament and DPWI. We need a project implementation plan after this meeting. The sooner Parliament returns to its optimal operation, the better for the Republic of South Africa.” He suggested that the troika must brief this JSC, by 15 October 2022. He added that the briefing must address whether the DPWI has the capacity to carry out the job of restoring the Parliament precinct. He also suggested an oversight meeting to confirm if there are monitoring centres and security in Parliament, and to observe what really happened – all before 15 October 2022.

The Chairperson agreed with Ms Lesoma that the government departments must not be stretched to go to different platforms and committees to give account on their responsibilities.

Minister De Lille thanked the Members for their inputs and said that the Department had committed to the Chairpersons after the first phase was presented. The first phase was conducted internally by DPWI officials. The DPWI went to the market and got an independent company to do the second phase of the assessments, which were presented today. She agreed that the way forward must be determined by the DPWI, National Treasury and Parliament, through a meeting. National Treasury will make an announcement at the end of October, if it is going to fund the project.

She agreed with the Members on the procurement process, and said that everyone is concerned about corruption, overruns and delayed projects. “We need to see transparency by publicising the bid evaluation and adjudication committee meetings.” She highlighted that CDC work is completed. Whether CDC wants to participate in the procurement process is a different question. “They have delivered the mandate, and it is now up to CDC to decide what they want to do, going forward. It is up to the government to make a decision on what they want to do.” She supported the idea of waiting for the troika report and revisiting the matter.

Mr Masondo noted all the concerns and suggestions around corruption, unfinished projects and availability of resources. He agreed with the Minister on real time audits, and said that financial issues must be addressed. “Let us allow the process to unfold and inform the Committee on any progress.” He said that the asbestos matter raised in the NCOP is just a rumour because there is no substance. “We will continue to look at the matter and keep the Members posted”.

Mr Beukes (Coega) said that the company was concerned about the slates of the roof tiles found on the second floor of the damaged Old Assembly. Investigations were carried out to check if the tiles contained any asbestos fibre content. Subsequently, the company was advised that all the asbestos roof tiles were replaced with fibre cement. There was also an issue with the paint in the Old Assembly containing asbestos, but the DPWI sent samples to a specialised testing laboratory. The results proved that there is no asbestos. He added that he cannot confirm if there are any materials of asbestos nature in the NCOP building.

Mr George met with the Acting DG of National Treasury to discuss the request for funding. He will meet with the Acting DG of Public Works on Tuesday. “We have agreed that we will convene a meeting of urgency between the three of us to scope and trash all the modalities that should inform the approach to this project. We need to appreciate that these are extraordinary circumstances that would require all of us to summon our combined efforts and strengths to tackle this matter and minimise any possibilities that could impede on our agency to drive a project of this magnitude”. He added that the meetings would help the three concerned parties brief the combined executive authorities. He said that the meeting with National Treasury had facilitated the subsequent engagement of the executive authority of Parliament that is scheduled soon to ascertain an allocative approach in the medium-term budget policy statement, including unforeseen and unavoidable expenditure issues occasioned by the fire.

Ms Mabatho Zungu, Division Manager of Institutional Support Services, Parliament, said that Parliament and DPWI are looking at a search-and-recovery process to ensure that Members are able to retrieve their belongings through the best applicable methodology. The safety of the people entering the Parliament building should not be compromised. The progress will be communicated to the Members when the process has been completed.

Mr Rayi proposed that the JSC invites the DPWI and SAPS for an oversight regarding this matter.

The Committee Secretary said that the DPWI and other Committee Members were invited to the NCOP meeting.

The Chairperson asked the Members to adopt the minutes of 02 September 2022.
Ms N Mahlo (ANC) moved for the adoption of the minutes.
Ms Lesoma seconded the move for the adoption of the minutes. She also requested a status report regarding filling critical and senior management vacancies, and in-take of service trainees in all units for the next meeting.
The Chairperson thanked the Members for attending the meeting.

The meeting was adjourned.


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