Parliament to have a security chief after an eight year absence

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It’s taken over eight years to find a suitable person to take on the responsibility of security for the South African Parliament.

A 7 September statement attributed to the Parliament of the Republic of South Africa has it the institution is “delighted” to announce General Samson Shitlabane as its new security chief.

Parliament, a national key point (NKP), has been sans a “dedicated” security chief since July 2015 when the “position was absorbed into the Household and Management Division, relegating it to a junior role and hampering its ability to make critical security decisions”. Worsening the situation is what the statement calls “the intrusion of the Parliament arsonist in January 2022”. This “underscored the urgent necessity for a knowledgeable and seasoned Chief of Security”.

Shitlabane is a decorated career police officer whose expertise will provide the necessary leadership and management for Parliament’s Security Management Division, the statement reads.  He is due to take up the position on 1 October.

It continues: “He boasts a wealth of experience as a high ranking police official, having held various key positions in the police service since 1994. Notably, he served as Lieutenant General of Protection and Security Services since 2018”.

His career includes Major General: Provincial Head Protection and Security Services; Brigadier: Acting Component Head VIP Protection Services, and Brigadier: Section Head VIP Protection Services.

Shitlabane “is no stranger to Parliament” and been part of SA Police Service leadership responsible for security arrangements around SONA (State of the Nation Address) for years, according to the statement.

“His appointment is a much-needed intervention that will boost parliamentary security and safety, particularly during the current rebuilding project following the fire.

Shitlabane will be “a crucial liaison” with the SA Police Service (SAPS), “forging strong collaborative ties to fortify the security apparatus”. Given Parliament’s status as an NKP, his role includes maintaining constant vigilance against potential threats, both internal and external, and evolving security measures to stay ahead of emerging challenges.

“This role has been elevated to a senior position, granting it direct reporting access to the Secretary to Parliament and the Executive Authority. This ensures all security concerns will receive immediate attention,” the statement has it.