ANC MP Dirks alleged to have threatened female colleague during parliamentary sitting

2017-11-30 22:31
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Cape Town – An ANC MP was thrown out of the National Assembly for raising his middle finger after he was alleged to have made threats against a female colleague during the same marathon session on Thursday.

The MP, Mervyn Dirks, is one of the MPs who tried to scupper the debate on state capture on Tuesday. It is unclear who the female ANC MP is. 

At about 18:20 House chairperson Cedric Frolick suspended proceedings to sort out the chamber's electronic voting system. 

When proceedings resumed, DA chief whip John Steenhuisen rose on a point of order and said just before the House adjourned he had seen Dirks attempt to strike one of the female members sitting next to him.

"For the safety of the members there and for the decorum of the House, I really think that he should be removed from the House in terms of rule 70 so that we can continue the business," Steenhuisen said.

ANC chief whip Jackson Mthembu then said "serious allegations have been made against a member of this House, by members in that corner", pointing in Dirks' direction.

'We cannot have a man threaten women in this chamber'

"And we have indeed escalated these allegations to the head of the institution, the Speaker."

"Among those allegations are that serious insults have been thrown at our female members at the back there. Secondly, gestures and threats of assault have been made against members at the back there."

Mthembu said he asked those members to put in writing all the allegations so that they can be put formally in front of the Speaker and the processes of Parliament.

Other opposition whips also asked for Dirks' removal. Steenhuisen pointed out that Dirks was already before Parliament's powers and privileges committee – the committee that investigates complaints about MPs' conduct.   

"It is 16 Days of Activism (for no Violence Against Women and Children), we cannot have a man threaten women in this chamber, let alone strangle them, sorry, chair," said Minister of Defence and Military Veterans Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula to applause from both sides of the aisle. 

Frolick said he did not see the incident and asked Dirks if the allegations were true. 

Dirks denied them and called the DA racist.

Alleged victim not questioned

"I don't want to conduct a DC (disciplinary hearing) from where I'm sitting," said Frolick. "I want now to proceed with the business of the day."

He asked if Speaker Baleka Mbete, who was present, could deal with the matter immediately after the sitting.

DA deputy chief whip Mike Waters pointed out that Frolick hadn't asked the member who was allegedly threatened what happened, but Frolick would have none of it and proceeded.

Shortly after things got underway, COPE MP Deidre Carter stood up to complain that Dirks was showing his middle finger.

Frolick asked him if he did. 

He started speaking about a "DA camera that was focused on me all the time".

'I would never show a middle finger to a liberal'

When Frolick asked him a second time, he said, "Those neo-liberals are getting mad in the head." 

After Frolick asked him for a third time if he showed his middle finger, he said, "I am talking to my friend, those neo-liberals are getting mad."

Frolick asked him again if the allegations were true.

"Why should I show a middle finger to liberals?" he responded.

"Honourable member, it is a simple yes or no," Frolick sighed.

"I would never show a middle finger to a liberal," Dirks said. 

"What (sic) should I show a middle finger to them? They're racist," he said as he raised his middle finger. 

Frolick requested that he leave.

As he left, Carter suggested a breathalyser test. "He was in Barney's (Parliament's members' bar) the whole day!" 

Frolick ruled this out of order. 

Not the first time

The House adjourned shortly before 20:00, without further incident.

This is not the first time Dirks has showed Parliament the middle finger. Earlier this year he did the same, and when asked if he did he denied it even though his action had been clearly visible from the press gallery and on the broadcast.

In February he called DA MP Phumzile van Damme a "straatmeid". 

Dirks was also one of the ANC MPs who boycotted the meeting chaired by former dissident ANC MP Makhosi Khoza when Public Service and Administration Minister Faith Muthambi was due to be interrogated on allegations of impropriety.

During Tuesday's sitting, he had heated exchanges with Steenhuisen and Waters when he unsuccessfully tried to derail the debate on state capture. He was also one of the ANC MPs who complained about Mthembu allowing the state capture debate during a "press briefing" with only the Gupta-linked ANN7 in attendance. 

In September The Witness reported that Dirks owes the Msunduzi municipality, of which he was deputy mayor, more than R60 000 for rates and municipal services for his Woodlands property, which he confirmed.

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