Labour Court puts par­lia­men­tary chief ’s sus­pen­sion on hold

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - NEWS - ZENZILE KHOISAN

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.

PIC­TURE: IAN LANDSBERG

RE­PRIEVE: Zelda Holtz­man, sus­pended head of par­lia­men­tary se­cu­rity, leaves the Labour Court yes­ter­day.

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