Parliament suspends nine officials over National Assembly fire
Only one person, alleged parliament arsonist Zandile Mafe, is being held criminally liable for the fire, which will cost R2 billion to repair.
The precincts of Parliament in Cape Town after fire gutted both the Old Assembly Wing and the National Assembly Wing of Parliament. Picture: Twitter/ @MolotoMothapo
Parliament said the suspension of senior officials over the fire that swept through the building in 2022 was crucial for maintaining the integrity of the institution and ensuring an impartial process.
Nine Parliamentary staff members were suspended by Parliament last week after an external investigation into the fire unearthed allegations of maladministration.
The nine form part of a group of 28 officials who have been identified in an independent investigation commissioned by Parliament into the causes associated with the 2022 security breach and fire at the buildings.
In the aftermath of the fire, speaker Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula and National Council of Provinces chairperson Amos Masondo, requested a comprehensive report detailing the circumstances surrounding the incident.
Secretary to Parliament, Xolile George, said the 28 identified officials were given an opportunity in October to respond to a notice of possible charges related to Parliament’s internal fire investigation.
“As of October 20th, these employees received notice of the charges under consideration and were given a chance to reply or comment on the claims. Out of these, 26 employees have responded. One did not, while another was hospitalised at the time but has since indicated a willingness to address the allegations.”
George said some employees offered satisfactory justifications for their actions, which Parliament acknowledged, absolving them from the charges.
“Others failed to provide adequate explanations. Consequently, Parliament is arranging disciplinary hearings for these staff members, who will soon receive notice of the specific charges they face.
“The preparations for these hearings are particularly delicate. In organising the disciplinary proceedings, Parliament must balance protecting its interests with the rights of the employees concerned,” George said.
George said the nine senior staff, have been placed on suspension with full pay and benefits, to minimise any influence they could have on others.
Only one person – alleged parliament arsonist Zandile Mafe – is being held criminally liable for the fire, which will cost around R2 billion to repair.
Parliament announced last week that it had made progress by fixing some of the offices that were damaged in the fire.
Earlier this month, Mafe launched a tirade of accusations and threats as he was ushered into court.
He was eventually stifled when his lawyer, Dali Mpofu, arrived and stopped him.
Mafe was arrested swiftly for allegedly starting the fire in the National Assembly that gutted important parts of Parliament on 2 January 2022.