Frogmarched from the House
The head of Parliament’s protection unit says treatment of her and her deputy is reminiscent of apartheid
The head of Parliament’s protection services, Zelda Holtzman, was frogmarched out of Parliament again this week as she tried to return to work. On August 1, Parliament put Holtzman and her deputy, Motlatsi Mokgatla, on precautionary suspension to allow for the investigation of alleged security breaches and other issues affecting the Parliamentary Protection Services to be free of any perception of possible bias.
Parliament announced that the investigation would be completed by the end of August.
According to well-placed parliamentary sources, Holtzman and Mokgatla had allegedly opposed:
The use of blue lights by the secretary to Parliament, Gengezi Mgidlana;
The recruitment of active police officers from the SA Police Service (SAPS) to Parliament’s protection services; and
The flawed process in the recruitment of active SAPS officers.
Parliament is yet to officially charge the duo. Instead, it extended their suspension this week, before Holtzman was escorted off the premises.
Holtzman reported for duty on Tuesday this week. Parliament had not indicated she was not welcome to return to work.
Though she managed to drive into the precinct, she was stopped by two police officers on the way to her office in Parliament’s administrative block at 90 Plein Street.
Holtzman charged that the police were carrying out an unlawful instruction, which also went against Parliament’s security policy.
She was escorted out of Parliament by one of her subordinates three hours later, with the letter extending her suspension in her hand. She later told City Press the treatment meted out to her resembled the tactics employed by the apartheid regime.
“I am deeply saddened. I don’t know what their motive is. I can only suspect what it means. But I do know, in terms of my own conscience, that the only thing I am guilty of is doing the right thing in the interests of the institution.” She said she was shocked at the treatment she and Mokgatla were receiving.
Holtzman is challenging her suspension, saying it was unlawful and done in a manner that was against Parliament’s own policy.
She said Parliament had not heeded any of the communication from her lawyers about the unlawful way she was suspended.
She added that the institution had shown no regard for her and Mokgatla, neither as senior staff members nor as people who were committed to Parliament.
“My dignity has been impaired. They have set the police on me.
“They’ve treated me like an enemy of the state. Their actions have been reminiscent of the apartheid government,” she said.
Holtzman said she had gone to work on Tuesday because she had felt duty-bound to do so and Parliament had not told her otherwise.
She confirmed that Parliament had not charged them. But she refused to speculate on the security breaches the institution was investigating against them.
One source in Parliament’s protection unit said: “She told Mgidlana it was unlawful for him to use blue lights and a protection officer [in his car] and, if he wanted to continue using them, there was a process to be followed.”
Other sources claimed Holtzman and Mokgatla opposed the recruitment of police officers to the protection unit – officers who are responsible for removing disruptive MPs from the House.
Holtzman allegedly wrote to Mgidlana, warning him: Not to recruit active police officers; That recruitment to the protection services had to be done within the framework of Parliament’s human resources policy;
That the recruitment process be open, as the decision was made by a multiparty forum; and
To test candidates to ensure they were not only physically competent but understood the sensitivity of Parliament and the importance of parliamentary decorum.
According to the sources, the forensic company Foresight Advisory Services was appointed to investigate the pair.
Parliament had previously refused to tell City Press who was investigating the alleged breaches.
Parliament did not respond to questions from City Press, saying only that Holtzman and Mokgatla were still on precautionary suspension, as the investigation was not yet complete.