Suspicious bag outside Parliament

A LARGE purple shopping bag and a pair of battered crutches had police officers warning pedestrians not to use a 50m section of pavement in front of Parliament yesterday.

A LARGE purple shopping bag and a pair of battered crutches had police officers warning pedestrians not to use a 50m section of pavement in front of Parliament yesterday.

"Please don't walk this side, sir," a policeman told a Sapa reporter who was walking close to the railings on Plein Street, in front of Tuynhuys, shortly before 1pm.

When asked why not, he replied: "Because there's a suspicious package."

He was referring to a large purple shopping bag, half hidden in the shrubbery behind the parliamentary precinct's front railings.

On top of a low wall next to the bag was a pair of battered-looking crutches.

Ten minutes later a member of the police's dog unit led a large German shepherd up to the bag. The animal gave it a good sniff, officers conferred on their radios, and a minute later normal pedestrian traffic resumed.

The wide, tree-lined pavement area in front of Parliament, just up from the prominent statue of former prime minister Louis Botha astride his horse, is a favoured haunt of the indigent and homeless. - Sapa

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