Frog­marched from the House

The head of Par­lia­ment’s pro­tec­tion unit says treat­ment of her and her deputy is rem­i­nis­cent of apartheid

CityPress - - News - ANDISIWE MAK­I­NANA andisiwe.mak­i­nana@city­press.co.za

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.

PHOTO: PETER ABRA­HAMS

Zelda Holtz­man

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