Kohler Barnard fights back, wants reasons for her increased sentence

2015-11-05 08:29
Dianne Kohler Barnard (wearing pink) briefly attended the sitting of the National Assembly on Wednesday (November 4 2015). Picture: Charl du Plessis

Dianne Kohler Barnard (wearing pink) briefly attended the sitting of the National Assembly on Wednesday (November 4 2015). Picture: Charl du Plessis

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Democratic Alliance MP Dianne Kohler Barnard has asked the DA federal executive (Fedex) to supply the reasons why it saw fit to increase her sentence and expel her.

Confirming yesterday that Kohler Barnard had lodged a notice to appeal against her sentence, Federal Legal Commission chairperson Glynnis Breytenbach said that the next step was for the party’s Fedex to furnish reasons to her attorneys.

“She has lodged a notice, now Fedex must supply reasons for increasing the sentence. Then her legal team will draft a comprehensive notice of appeal. They don’t know the reasons yet.”

Breytenbach said a five-member panel to be selected for the appeal was yet to be determined.

The decision by the executive to not endorse the recommendations of a disciplinary panel – that included three independent attorneys – and instead impose the maximum penalty, has split the DA.

Recommendations to the DA reportedly included a drop in salary, a R20 000 fine and a public apology.

In terms of the party’s constitution, Fedex is entitled to either confirm the sentence, or impose a lesser or greater penalty “with good reason”.

When asked what the reasons were, Fedex chairperson James Selfe said he was not in a position to provide them.

“Fedex needs a chance to formulate the reasons that will withstand legal challenge,” he said, adding he expected it would be done within a day or so.

Kohler Barnard brought the party into disrepute after sharing a post on Facebook that hankered after the days of apartheid leader PW Botha. It came as the DA has been intent on shedding perceptions it is a party that protects white privileges.

She apologised, pleaded guilty when charged and entered into a plea and sentence agreement.

She brought in heavyweight defence attorney Barry Roux to represent her at her three-hour hearing last month.

Kohler Barnard, who joined the DA 11 years ago, was the first MP to face a disciplinary in terms of the party’s new social media policy.

She remains an MP pending her appeal and was present briefly at a sitting of the National Assembly yesterday.

The Kohler Barnard controversy is likely to be fiercely debated during the party’s weekly caucus meeting today. The fallout over the non-disclosure to Parliament of internal election campaign donors by a number of MPs – including DA leader Mmusi Maimane – is also likely to be raised.

Read more on:    dianne kohler barnard  |  da

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