Parliament's former head of security, Zelda Holtzman was notified of her dismissal from the employment of Parliament with immediate effect. Picture: Ian Landsberg/ANA

Cape Town - Parliament has wasted no time in wielding the axe to its former head of security, Zelda Holtzman after receiving a report from the chairperson of disciplinary committee three days ago.

In a statement on Tuesday, spokesperson Moloto Mothapo said Holtzman was notified of her dismissal from the employment of Parliament with immediate effect on Tuesday.

The dismissal happened exactly a day after the national legislature received a report from chairperson of the disciplinary inquiry Takalani Madima, which was dated October 8.

“This report from the inquiry’s independent chairperson, Professor Takalani Madima, followed the conclusion of proceedings on aggravation and mitigation of sanctions for charges on which Holtzman was found guilty,” Mothapo said.

Holtzman was suspended more than two years ago when national legislature instituted an investigation into security breaches at Parliament.
This was in the wake of reports that Holtzaman blew the whistle about Secretary to Parliament Gengenzi Mgidlana who was accused of using official vehicles and blue lights, and that he and his family were being chauffered around by Parliament’s protection services.

In his report, Madima recommended Holtzman’s dismissal for three charges, and a final written warning for one.

The recommendations for dismissal were for serious misconduct amounting to gross insubordination.

“The recommended sanctions of dismissal related to Ms Holtzman’s refusal to provide written responses and a report to her manager, in terms of a lawful instruction for her to do so."

“This amounted not only to gross insubordination but also a breakdown in the pivotal workplace relationship of trust between an employee and employer,” Mothapo said.

He also said the dismissal was also recommended for failing to produce a business plan in support of Parliament’s strategic plan (a statutory requirement) and to submit an annual budget.

“A final written warning was recommended for failing to take steps to address divisions in the Parliamentary Protection Services, including between herself and her deputy,” Mothapo said.

Holtzman could not be reached for comment, but in an interview with GroundUp she likened her experience to a tyranny of an institution which veered from its intended path.

“I am saddened because many people sacrificed to create a People’s Parliament representative of the whole South Africa and which is an expression of justice and equality. And here I find myself as somebody who did the right thing; who spoke out against abuse of power; who took steps to have allegations of abuse investigated and to prevent it from happening in future and still I find myself dealt with in this high-handed manner by a Parliament who should have instead embraced what I stood for.”

Civil society group, Right2Know, described Holtzman’s dismissal as “punishment” after she blew the whistle against abuse of state resources.
“Parliament must respect whistleblowers,” it said.

The groups said the country has normalised corruption so much that there were outrageous attacks on whistleblowers.

“The institutional culture in the private and public sectors must embrace whistleblowers as vital actors in our collective efforts to safeguard and deepen our democracy, not as troublemakers.”

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