Tattooed man kicked out of Parliament

2013-10-11 00:00

CAPE TOWN — The Constitution calls for Parliament to be open to the public, as long as their tattoos do not show.

This would appear to be how an ANC MP interprets the Constitution after the Department of Defence’s portfolio committee yesterday told a member of the public he was not welcome, allegedly because he was not dressed properly.

Tim Flack, Western Cape organiser for the South African National Defence Union, said he had only heard of the meeting after he had left his home yesterday morning and went straight to the meeting dressed as he was, in knee-length pants, flip flops and a black golf-shirt.

Flack, a former member of the navy, has a prominent tattoo on his left leg.

ANC MP Emmanuel Mlambo officially lodged a complaint against Flack’s appearance. Ali Maziya, acting chair of the meeting, asked Flack to leave the committee.

DA MP David Maynier objected, but the chair dismissed his objection. Parliamentary staff then asked Flack to leave the waiting room outside the committee’s chamber. Flack said he does not know why he was victimised as he was not disrupting the meeting or taking part in the proceedings.

Spokesperson for Parliament Luzuko Jacobs said the chair’s decision could not be changed by the office of the speaker, but the speaker’s office yesterday said the case is viewed in a serious light.

“The Constitution says Parliament must facilitate access for the public and their involvement in the legislative process … The public, including the media, may not be excluded from a committee unless it is reasonable and justifiable to do so in an open and democratic society.”

Jacobs said the speaker’s office had already asked Maziya for a statement to explain why he asked Flack to leave the meeting. “We also have Mr Flack’s version. When all the facts have been considered, an announcement will be made,” Jacobs said.

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