Parliament is not a prison yard – remove the barbed wire

Please find attached soundbite by Natasha Mazzone MP.

“The Heritage Council must urgently intervene and order the removal of the barbed wire that was erected right around Parliament and limits access to the Company Gardens by the public,” said Natasha Mazzone, DA Chief Whip.

“From the outside, the parliamentary precinct looks like a cordoned off prison yard!”

Mazzone was referring to the barbed wire, fencing and blockades that the South African Police Service (SAPS) has erected along the entrance to the Company Gardens at Government Avenue via Wale Street months ago. Residents and tourists are being blocked from entering the Gardens through Cape Town’s earliest throughways.

The DA was informed by the Secretary to Parliament, Xolile George, that SAPS installed the barbed wire as an extra security measure after breaches to the precinct. While we agree that Parliament must be protected, especially in light of the fire that decimated the National Assembly in January, defacing a Grade 1 National Heritage Site cannot be the way to accomplish this.

However much the Minister of Police, Bheki Cele, and his ANC comrades might wish it to be, South Africa is not a police state. The Parliamentary precinct has an important role to play, not only with regards to tourism, but also for social cohesion. It is a symbol of a democratic country where everyone is free and equal under the Constitution. Instead of encasing it in barbed wire and restricting access to public gardens, SAPS must find a viable solution that is in line with the National Heritage Resources Act – increased patrols in vulnerable areas or a mobile station or booth for instance.

SAPS’ measures are in contravention of a number of sections of the National Heritage Resources Act, and the DA hopes the Heritage Council finds a swift resolution to the eyesore.