DA goes to court over use of police in Parliament

2015-02-18 14:24

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The Democratic Alliance will bring a court challenge against legislation allowing for the arrest or removal of people who create a disturbance in the National Assembly.

The DA filed papers in the Western Cape High Court following last week’s removal of Economic Freedom Fighters members of Parliament from the National Assembly during the state of the nation address, DA federal executive chairperson James Selfe said today.

The matter would be heard on March 5.

The DA also wanted an order preventing the speaker from calling in the 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.

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

The DA wanted the section removed from the act, saying it clashes with section 58 of the Constitution.

“That section of the Constitution guarantees Cabinet members, deputy ministers, and members of the National Assembly the immunity from civil or criminal proceedings, arrest, imprisonment or damages for ‘anything they have said in, produced before, or submitted to the assembly or any one of its committees’,” Selfe said.

He said that according to the Constitution no member of any security service may obey a manifestly illegal order.

Security services may also not prejudice a political party interest that was legitimate in terms of the Constitution.

The DA believed there was nothing wrong with raising points of order during President Jacob Zuma’s state of the nation address, and that Mbete acted unlawfully.

“They [EFF MPs] had not committed any crimes and therefore we contend that the police acted illegally and unconstitutionally. In doing that, the speaker and the chairperson of the National Council of Provinces acted illegally in invoking section 11,” James said.

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