Witness recalls bare-knuckle fight in Parliament

2014-10-08 21:54

The August 21 disruption of National Assembly proceedings by 20 Economic Freedom Fighters MPs was unprecedented, a long-time parliamentary employee has testified.

“I cannot recall ... an incident of this nature that involves members during a sitting,” secretary to the National Assembly, Masibulele Xaso, told Parliament’s powers and privileges committee today.

Xaso, who has been employed in Parliament in various capacities since May 1994, was the first witness to be called in the disciplinary process against EFF leader Julius Malema and 19 of his fellow MPs.

Xaso, however, did recall two incidents which constituted disorderly behaviour.

One was the September 1998 fist-fight between ANC MP Johnny de Lange and Manie Schoeman, who traded bare-knuckle blows just after former Speaker Frene Ginwala adjourned the House.

The other incident occurred “on 28 October 1997 where a group of young people staged a demonstration in the gallery of the House and the proceedings were suspended due to grave disorder”.

Xaso identified several of the EFF MPs accused of contempt of Parliament from video footage played during today’s proceedings.

Malema, EFF chief whip Floyd Shivambu, Khanyisile Litchfield-Tshabalala, Paul Ramakatsa, Mbuyiseni Ndlozi and Godrich Gardee were clearly seen disregarding the instructions of Speaker Baleka Mbete who ordered them to leave the House.

Earlier today, committee chairperson Lemias Mashile made it clear they would not be heeding a request by the EFF that the charges be withdrawn.

“The committee is advised and notes that neither the Powers, Privileges, and Immunities of Parliament and Provincial Legislatures Act ... nor the schedule to the rules allow withdrawal of charges against members,” said Mashile.

“The committee cannot concede to the withdrawal of charges against the affected members. It does not have the powers to do so.”

Only the Speaker had the authority to withdraw charges against MPs.

Xaso is expected to conclude his testimony when proceedings resume tomorrow in the absence of the 20 accused MPs.

Malema and the other accused MPs withdrew from the process yesterday, following a statement made by Malema.

In his statement, Malema attacked the legitimacy of the committee and asked instead that Mbete be charged for disrupting parliamentary proceedings that day.

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24


Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.