Ipid probes ejection of EFF from Parliament
Police watchdog the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid) has requested Parliament to furnish it with footage of the removal of Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) MPs from sittings in the legislature.
This is part of an investigation into whether police officers were among the parliamentary protection personnel who evicted EFF MPs from the state of the nation address (Sona), delivered by President Jacob Zuma on February 9.
This is the first time Parliament has come under scrutiny from a peripheral state institution, after the legislature dismissed complaints by opposition MPs.
On the night of Sona, EFF leader Julius Malema, rising on a point of order, claimed that there were 21 active police officers, dressed in Parliament’s security service uniforms, who would remove EFF MPs.
He called on the presiding officers to “comply with the law” and ensure that police officers were not allowed to move into the House and remove MPs that evening.
But his protestations were dismissed by National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete, who said the House could not work on the basis of hearsay, suppositions and rumours.
In a subsequent sitting, Mbete said the circumstances that led to the physical removal of MPs had been referred to Parliament’s joint rules committee for consideration. She did not directly address the alleged presence of police during this occasion.
This week, Ipid confirmed that it was trying to establish the facts related to the matter, following a complaint made by the EFF last month.
Ipid spokesperson Moses Dlamini said it wanted to establish whether police officers were involved and that, “if we confirm that they are police officers, Ipid has a mandate to investigate the alleged assault”.
“So, asking for footage is basically within the context of a complaint that has been lodged with Ipid – because the allegation is that some of these parliamentary protection service people are, in fact, police officers.”
Dlamini said Parliament was cooperating and had submitted information that had been requested initially, but that the EFF had this week brought further allegations of assault – including a request that the complaint also cover the removal of EFF members during last year’s Sona.
“We have asked for information, which we have received. We have asked for additional information, which includes the footage. They [Parliament] have indicated they will comply,” said Dlamini.
While Parliament’s Moloto Mothapo confirmed the Ipid inquiry, he added that “it was clarified that such claims were, in fact, baseless and cannot be supported by fact”.
The National Assembly passed a new rule in July 2015 which provided for disruptive MPs to be forcibly removed from the House.
The recruitment of police who had no parliamentary experience, at better terms and conditions to those of existing staff, created tensions within the protection services.