Support pours in for DKB

2015-10-05 11:51
Dianne Kohler Barnard

Dianne Kohler Barnard

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Pietermaritzburg - After placing the party “in a compromising position”, Democratic Alliance shadow minister of police Diane Kohler Barnard was demoted “to protect the image of the party”.

Provincial DA leader Zwakele Mncwango welcomed the move this weekend by the party. Mncwango said the image of the party is most important and the steps taken were to protect that image.

“As an organisation we could not just sit back and act as if this was normal. We had to do something as the party comes before the individual,” said Mncwango.

An MP, Kohler Barnard occupied a prominent position in the party as the DA’s shadow minister for police and has now been moved to shadow deputy minister of public works in a reshuffle. She was relegated after she shared a Facebook post by journalist Paul Kirk in which he claimed education, health and the police service were better during the days of apartheid era leader PW Botha.

Mncwango said the post was shared on September 15 and when he noticed the post on Facebook the next morning, he e-mailed her instructing her to remove the post.

“She responded to my e-mail early the next morning apologising and informed me she had removed the post. That was two weeks before the post went viral when someone took a screen-shot of the post and published it on Twitter,” said Mncwango.

He said the DA’s national office then stepped in; however, disciplinary charges against Kohler Barnard were already being dealt with.

“We were already dealing with the matter internally before national stepped in. Personally I do support the move by the party, but this does not mean I don’t support her,” he said.

Kohler Barnard’s Facebook page was flooded with messages of support from her friends and family over the weekend saying the DA’s move to demote her was uncalled for and the punishment did not match the crime.

“I support Dianne Kohler Barnard, she deserves a second chance for making a silly mistake,” wrote Deborah Edwards on Kohler Barnard’s Facebook page.

“We want you to know that we love you more than we did before.

“We know who you are and what you stand for. We also have every confidence that you will come out of this stronger and more determined than ever before,” wrote Shehana Sthandwa Gaibie.

Facebook user Janet Schickerling said she felt the DA “overreacted” towards Kohler Barnard.

“DKB [Dianne Kohler Barnard] has worked tirelessly for years and she is judged on this mistake. We all make mistakes and she did apologise. Dianne, thinking of you at this difficult time, you will get through it, be strong as you always are,” wrote Janet Schickerling.

A Pietermaritzburg police captain, who asked not to be named, said he was disappointed at the move and felt it was not communicated through the South African Police Service appropriately.

“On the ground, we heard about it through the media like everyone else. She [Kohler Barnard] was the shadow minister, that is an important move of someone in that position and all officers should have been kept in the loop,” she said.

She said Kohler Barnard was well respected in the force.

“From what I have seen, Dianne is a no-nonsense person and stands for the community. We need more of that in the police so I am saddened by the move.”

Another officer from Durban said he believed the move was as a result of “political influence”.

“It is obvious that with elections coming up, smear campaigns and in-fighting will be rife. One has to wonder if the penalty for sharing something on social media and the events that followed are just,” he said.

Fellow DA MP Mergen Chetty would not comment on the matter ahead of Kohler Barnard’s disciplinary hearing this week.

Local DA councillor Bill Lambert said he could not comment as he was not fully aware of all the details.

The DA spokesperson on public accounts Mark Steele said he only hoped the judicial and political processes would be done “speedily and appropriately”.

“The party must deal with the matter in a fair way toward the party and Dianne,” said Steele

Read more on:    dianne kohler barnard  |  pietermaritzburg

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