MPs ‘ill-treated’ by security at legislature, residences
National Assembly Speaker Thandi Modise made the call when member after member stood up and told her of harrowing stories about ill-treatment they had receive from the static police who man the National Legislature and their parliamentary residences.
This played out when the whippery of parties, presiding officers and senior parliamentary staff attended a programming committee meeting on Thursday.
The conduct of the police first came to light when the DA and EFF complained after Finance Minister Tito Mboweni delivered his Budget speech on Wednesday.
There has since been complaints about a “general” in a blue suit who apparently was at the centre of ill-treatment of MPs.
Although Modise had undertaken to follow up on the matter, EFF MP Hlengiwe Mkhaliphi brought the matter up again at the programming meeting.
“It seems to be happening every day,” Mkhaliphi said.
She told of how she got into an argument with the officers after she had stepped out of the bus (transporting MPs) and went to the precinct (House) only to be instructed to undergo a search.
“They were so rude. They told us even if ‘you are a member or not, just go there’. This matter needs to be looked at urgently because it is becoming worse,” she said.
DA chief whip Natasha Mazzone said one of their MPs was harassed by four male officers.
“It was literally over a ridiculous handbag. They were almost surrounding her and almost getting aggressive with her,” Mazzone said.
“This is not the way we operate. This is not the way the Powers and Privileges Act allows MPs to be treated,” she said.
Freedom Front Plus MP Pieter Mulder said what had happened on Budget Day was not new.
He told of how the police scanned his licence disc and driver’s licence though he usually showed his parking permit and was then allowed to enter the precinct.
ANC MP Grace Boroto said the governing party’s representatives had encountered the same.
“I know the man in the suit that was strong. It happened to me. I was nearly late,” Boroto said.
EFF Ntombovuyo Mente said the ill-treatment was also taking place at the parliamentary villages.
Mente, who had a knee injury, told of her encounter when returning from a physiotherapist and officers at the Acacia Park refused to allow an e-hailer taxi to take her to her house because the driver didn’t have a public driving permit.
“I protested Imagine there are members who can’t protest,” she said.
FF+ MP Wouter Wessels said officers were refusing access even to MPs and staff staying at parliamentary residences for not being in possession of “gold permits”.
“We have a member who was refused entry because the police said her photo looks different from the permit. It is really a problem,” Wessels said.
Modise said they were not informed about the increased security measures at Parliament.
“We will attend to the complaints raised by the members, but there are times when we must agree to put our bags through the X-ray,” she said.
“Our past experience also led us to think certain things can happen. That does not suggest that members must be criminalised,” Modise said.