Parliamentary Protection Service (PPS) officials have not been working in the precinct on weekends and public holidays since the outbreak of COVID-19 in March 2020.
This was confirmed by Acting Secretary to Parliament, Baby Tyawa, who says this was due to working shift changes that were made. She appeared virtually before Parliament’s Joint Standing Committee on the Financial Management of Parliament.
Tyawa and the Department of Public Works have been called to answer various questions which they could not answer in the previous joint meeting last week.
She says the officials were only expected to report back on duty on the 3rd of January, a day after the fire broke out.
“I can confirm that when COVID-19 happened in 2020 March, we changed our working schedule. Our Parliament Protections Service stopped working on weekends and on public holidays. The work of securing the precinct was over to SAPS as indeed this is a national key point. From 2020 March, equally 2020 December, which is a compulsory period for all staff of Parliament between the 26th of December to the first week of around the second or third of January the following year. We did not for two years have our officials on the precinct at that time. And therefore we did not have our officials on the night that the fire happened.”
Parliament Fire Update | Briefing on progress made in the investigation into the cause of the fire: