DA to challenge use of police in Parliament

By Drum Digital
05 March 2015

The DA's court challenge against legislation allowing for the arrest or removal of people who create a disturbance in the National Assembly will be heard later this month.

The DA's court challenge against legislation allowing for the arrest or removal of people who create a disturbance in the National Assembly will be heard later this month, it said on Thursday.

"By agreement between the parties, we decided to hear the final relief on the 16th of March and to drop the interdict," Democratic Alliance federal executive chairman James Selfe said.

The DA filed papers in the Western Cape High Court following the removal of Economic Freedom Fighters MPs from the National Assembly during the state-of-the-nation address on February 12.

Initially, the party was to have appeared in court on Thursday to get an interim interdict against the National Assembly Speaker and Chairperson.

By agreement, the DA decided not to seek the interim order preventing the Speaker and Chairperson from calling in police, pending the outcome of its challenge to the constitutionality of section 11 of the Powers, Privileges, and Immunities of Parliament and Provincial Legislatures Act.

EFF MPs were removed by police and parliamentary protection officers after Speaker Baleka Mbete invoked section 11 of the act.

The section allows the Speaker to order the arrest or removal of any person who creates a disturbance during a sitting.

The DA wants the court to declare that section 11 does not apply to MPs and therefore cannot be invoked to allow security services to remove them from a sitting, House, or committee.

In the alternative, it seeks an order finding section 11 unconstitutional, reading in a phrase which makes clear the section does not apply to members, and striking out the phrase that allows the Speaker and Chairperson to order arrests.

The DA relied on section 58 of the Constitution, read with section 71 of the Constitution, which declares that members of the National Assembly and National Council of Provinces could not be arrested for anything they had said in, produced before, or submitted in the relevant house or any of its committees.

Should the court find section 11 to be constitutionally valid, the party seeks an order declaring that it only apply in circumstances when a person commits a disturbance which amounts to an offence for which they can be arrested.

Source : Sapa

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