Ipid probes ejec­tion of EFF from Par­lia­ment

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

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.

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