Parliament refutes State of the Nation combat gear report

2015-02-09 05:00
Red carpet at Parliament (Picture: GCIS)

Red carpet at Parliament (Picture: GCIS)

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Johannesburg - A report stating that Parliament had procured combat gear such as bulletproof vests and tommy bars for President Jacob Zuma's State of the Nation address was false, Parliament said on Sunday.

"Parliament rejects as false and mischievous a newspaper report alleging that the institution was acquiring combat gear for its protection officers in preparation for the State of the Nation address on Thursday," it said in a statement.

"It is unfortunate that the report, which appeared today in a major Sunday newspaper, relies wholly on unsubstantiated information while the official response to the sensational allegations is reduced to a mere denial."

Training

The Sunday Times reported that Parliament had sent its security staff, numbering around 80, on self-defence classes in preparation for the address.

In addition, 16 of the institution's strongest protection officers were sent for a three-day special training camp at the SAPS academy in Bishop Lavis, Cape Town, the newspaper reported.

Sources told the newspaper that part of the increased security measures was to procure combat gear.

Parliament said physical fitness and good conditioning were inherent competencies for safety and security officers.

"Parliamentary protection officers undergo training as part of their tasks. This has nothing to do specifically with the State of the Nation address," Parliament said.

"The training for Parliament protection officers will continue. We reject the sensational claim in the newspaper report about procurement of bulletproof vests, tommy bars, handcuffs and other equipment by Parliament for use by its protection officers."

Equipment that protection officers use was in line with their responsibilities.

Security arrangements

"The State of the Nation address event which Parliament hosts brings together the three arms of state, members of the diplomatic corps and foreign guests, civil society representatives and members of the public," Parliament said.

"Security arrangements for the event, a shared function between Parliament and the security apparatuses of the state, are commensurate with the stature of the event."

Last month, the Economic Freedom Fighters threatened to disrupt Zuma's annual address if he did not respond to questions related to his Nkandla homestead.

Read more on:    cape town  |  politics  |  state of the nation 2015

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