MPs have voiced their concern about their safety in Parliament after Natasha Mazzone’s office was broken into.
Mazzone said the burglars were able to access her office with a key earlier this week. She also told the National Assembly’s programme committee on Thursday that she was concerned about the apparent vandalism that accompanied the break-in.
“They broke in so unnecessarily. It was almost like vandalisation of the office where one of the fluorescent lights was ripped off the ceiling and we believe that it was an attempt to steal the actual light bulbs themselves. Half of it left hanging from the ceiling, the rest on the floor. The locks were actually broken out of the cupboards. What did worry us though is that the access into my particular office seemed to have been done with a key,” she said.
The lack of security at Parliament was highlighted in 2018 when Lennox Garane, a senior manager, committed suicide after being able to carry a firearm onto the premises.
After that incident, MPs voiced their concern about the lax security measures at Parliament.
On Thursday, MPs again called for security to be beefed up. They particularly complained that the security cameras do not work.
Natasha Ntlangwini of the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) said she feels vulnerable as a woman in Parliament.
“There’s a great deal being made of our safety being compromised. And if the report does come out that there are no surveillance cameras in certain areas, surveillance cameras must be installed. I think Parliament shouldn’t take it from members and say ‘no, don’t install cameras in this passage and that passage’. There are construction people working on-site and many times one does feel unsafe. You are alone in your office and you are working. Ever since I started in Parliament, I work with a locked office because you just don’t feel safe as a woman in Parliament,” she said.
United Democratic Movement (UDM) Chief Whip Nqabayomzi Kwankwa also said women do not feel safe in the building.
“I’ve had to let my staff members go home early because they are predominantly female and they feel unsafe, especially on Friday afternoons because there are a lot of people who gain access into the precinct and they will find them roaming up and down. Some of them even using the toilets in Marks building, probably even other buildings of Parliament, people who are unidentified and unaccounted for. The researcher in my office even confronted one of them a couple of weeks ago to find out if he’s a visitor. And he was not a visitor. He just wanted to use the ablution facilities in Parliament,” she said.