DA goes to court over police in Parliament

2015-03-05 07:36
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ANC members march against 'DA racism'

The ANC in the Western Cape took to the streets of Cape Town to protest against what it described as “racism and corruption” in the DA. View pictures from the march here.

Cape Town - The DA on Thursday will challenge legislation allowing for the arrest or removal of people who create a disturbance in the National Assembly.

The party approached the Western Cape High Court after the removal of Economic Freedom Fighters MPs from the National Assembly during the State of the Nation address on 12 February.

The DA also wants an order preventing the Speaker 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 DA wants the section removed from the act, saying it clashes with section 58 of the Constitution.

Written questions

Meanwhile, the SA Police Service will also receive written questions about its activities during the State of the Nation address, DA Western Cape community safety spokesperson Mireille Wenger said.

Wenger, who heads the provincial committee on community safety, said in a statement that questions would be directed in writing to provincial police commissioner Arno Lamoer and national police commissioner Riah Phiyega.

Lamoer was in the provincial legislature on Wednesday morning. The committee had called him in to get answers about what police did in the parliamentary precinct during President Jacob Zuma's address.

"We are most disappointed that many of the pertinent questions remain unanswered," said Wenger.

National operation

At the time, Lamoer said he could not answer questions about action taken on that day as it was a national operation. "It is a national event. It is a national operation. There are different role players in that."

He said the committee needed to address questions to the National Joint Operational and Intelligence Structure (Natjoints).

Natjoints, which is mandated to secure major national events, includes the police, defence force, metro police departments, and intelligence bodies.

Wenger said that while it was understandable that some matters fell under national co-ordinating structures, the committee had hoped to get clarity on provincial police matters, especially in light of media reports claiming that provincial police were deployed to the National Assembly.

Lamoer said he could not discuss any operational details about that day because the media was present.

Wenger told him that the provincial legislature could not exclude the public and media unless it was reasonable and justifiable to do so.

The committee had asked questions relating to the arrest of four Democratic Alliance members on charges of public violence, ahead of the state-of-the-nation address.

Charges against MPs withdrawn

Last week, the National Prosecuting Authority confirmed the charges against DA MP Marius Redelinghuys, DA Cape metro chairperson Shaun August, and two other party members, were withdrawn due to insufficient evidence.

Lamoer said police officers had the power to arrest someone suspected of breaking the law.

His department would investigate allegations that the party's members were driven around for four or five hours in a police van.

"If any of my members transgresses, I will take action against that. We are still looking at what is going on there... so the investigation is not yet concluded."

He said the DA members could approach the provincial police ombudsman, public protector, or the police's own inspectorate.

Wenger said there seemed to be quite a heavy police presence on that day and asked whether there had been a particular threat to national security or fear of disruption.

Lamoer replied that the police presence that day was not out of the ordinary. He would be able to provide figures in writing on how many officers were present that day and how many arrests were made.

"The threat itself, that is really a question that needs to be asked to state security," he said.

Read more on:    police  |  da  |  cape town  |  politics  |  state of the nation 2015  |  parliament 2015

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