WHY PARLY’S SECURITY CHIEF WAS suspended
Holtzman and her deputy objected to the hiring of police for Parliament after its rules had been amended to allow this, writes Andisiwe Makinana
Parliamentary Protection Services boss Zelda Holtzman and her deputy, Motlatsi Mokgatla, were humiliatingly escorted out of the parliamentary precinct by a junior officer in full view of staff shortly after being told of their suspension on Thursday. Earlier in the day, the two had requested letters detailing reasons for their precautionary suspensions, which were provided by Deputy Secretary to Parliament Baby Tyawa. By the time they returned to their offices, their computers had been confiscated.
Holtzman and Mokgatla were forced to hand in their parliamentary access cards, the keys to their offices and their parking discs before being escorted by a junior security official to their parked cars and out of the precinct.
City Press has reliably learnt that Holtzman and Mokgatla were suspended over their opposition to the inclusion of police officers as part of the parliamentary protection service, questioning the process that was followed in incorporating the police into the parliamentary structure.
They have also questioned the appointment of a junior security official as the person in charge of police deployment in the chamber and are generally unhappy about how Parliament plans to bolster security.
“They had a different view on the aspects of enhancing security in Parliament, saying it could only bring in other things that are not right, in terms of reporting lines. But Parliament forged ahead with it,” said a source in the parliamentary security unit.
“They were questioning those processes as the people responsible for security management of Parliament,” said the source.
The official put in charge of the project to “boost parliamentary security”, whose name is known to City Press, is an asset manager for parliamentary protection services. Holtzman and Mokgatla are former MK soldiers, and Holtzman was the deputy commissioner of the police in the Western Cape.
Holtzman told City Press: “We are weighing up our options and taking advice because we have our personal, political and professional integrity to defend.” Mokgatla declined to comment. Parliament said while it had noted increased media interest in further details of the precautionary suspension, it was not its practice to engage in discussion in the media about its internal, administrative activities.
Parliament amended its rules this week to make it possible to forcefully eject unruly MPs.
In terms of the amended rule 53A, Parliament’s protection services and the serjeant at arms, acting on the instructions of the presiding officers, will be called upon to remove a member who resists any reasonable request for the member to leave the House.
City Press revealed last week that Parliament had recruited 22 active police officers to be incorporated into the parliamentary protection unit, even though they remained on the SA Police Service payroll.
It bought them the same uniform worn by parliamentary protection officers – lime-green shirts and black pants – to start work this month.
Parliament said the move was to boost the capacity of the parliamentary protection unit to deal with unruly MPs.
The ANC formally tabled the proposal to second police to Parliament in its submission to the rules committee on Tuesday this week, two days after the City Press revelation, saying this would be an interim measure while parliamentary protection services personnel undergo training.
ANC MP Richard Mdakane, who presented the ANC’s submission, said the secondment of security services would last six months.
Political horse trading ensured the surprise clause was not adopted, as all opposition parties warned the move would be unconstitutional.
Announcing the Holtzman and Mokgatla suspensions on Thursday afternoon, Parliament said it had taken the drastic measure to enable investigation – into alleged security breaches and other issues affecting the parliamentary protection services – to take place “in an environment free of any perception of possible bias”.
City Press was told that Holtzman and Mokgatla were united in their opposition to the deployment of police inside the National Assembly chamber, which was a move spearheaded by Secretary to Parliament, Gengezi Mgidlana.
Policemen wearing white shirts and black pants frogmarched EFF members out of the National Assembly chamber during the state of the nation address in February.
The use of musclemen to deal with MPs was roundly slammed.
The EFF has disrupted sittings of the National Assembly at least four times in the past year and the ANC is desperate to reign them in and bring back order to the House.
OPPOSED Suspended head of the parliamentary
protection service Zelda