Labour Court puts parliamentary chief ’s suspension on hold
THE CAPE Town Labour Court yesterday instructed Parliament to “hold fire”, and not proceed with disciplinary proceedings against suspended parliamentary security chief Zelda Holtzman.
Parliament should wait until a ruling on Monday by the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration on whether it had the jurisdiction to hear her unfair labour dispute matter. The matter is related to protected disclosure and suspension.
Holtzman faces five charges which could constitute grounds for dismissal, two of which relate to communications with the media, or statements attributed to her in the media six weeks after her suspension.
She blew the whistle on alleged abuse of power by Parliament’s secretary Gengezi Mgidlana, informing him shortly before her suspension, in a protected disclosure, about illegal and irregular activities of which she had been apprised by parliamentary staff members.
The matter, heard before Judge Hilary Rabkin-Naicker, with Holtzman as applicant and the Parliament of South Africa as respondent, is an urgent application under Labour Court rule eight, brought by Holtzman. It calls for the respondent to be “restrained and interdicted from proceeding with the disciplinary hearing”, originally scheduled for October 28.
Holtzman had further asked that Parliament “be interdicted and refrained from proceeding with the aforementioned disciplinary hearing pending the outcome of an unfair labour practice dispute under case number WCT13510/15 relating to protected disclosure”.
This was scheduled to be heard before CCMA senior commissioner Piet van Staden between November 23 and 27.
Judge Rabkin- Naicker heard that Van Staden was to rule on Monday, on a point in limine objection, about whether the CCMA had jurisdiction to hear a protected disclosure matter. Before adjourning, she instructed that Parliament should “hold fire” until she had been furnished with the ruling.
Holtzman and her deputy, Motlatsi Mokgatla, were placed on cautionary suspension on July 30 following an alleged burglary at the EFF’s parliamentary offices, and allegations of leaks to the media.
The background, laid out by Johnny Nortje, for Holtzman, was that various protection services members complained to Holtzman in June about having been instructed by Mgidlana to transport him, his children and his wife in official protection services vehicles, and to “activate blue lights, sirens, run red lights and drive at excessive speeds, even on Sundays”.
Holtzman had made a ”protected disclosure” about the issue, which became known as “the blue lights issue”.
He told the court there was a “causal link, a nexus” between the protected disclosure and the disciplinary action.
Rob Stelzner SC, for Parliament, asked for the application to be dismissed because, he argued, Holtzman had other remedies available to her.
REPRIEVE: Zelda Holtzman, suspended head of parliamentary security, leaves the Labour Court yesterday.