Cape Town - First he said he knew student leader Mcebo Dlamini very well, then a few days later the state security minister backtracked on the extent of their relationship.
Now, minister David Mahlobo will have to face the powers and privileges committee to explain if he lied to Parliament in November.
The Speaker’s office announced in Parliament’s announcements, tablings and committee report papers on Wednesday that the matter had officially been referred to the committee.
“An allegation regarding a statement made by the Minister of State Security, Mr M D Mahlobo MP, to the National Assembly on Wednesday, 16 November 2016, has been referred to the Powers and Privileges Committee in terms of Rule 214 for consideration and report, together with the unrevised Hansard and video recording of the proceedings in question,” the announcement reads.
Mahlobo was asked to clarify his relationship with Dlamini while answering questions in the National Assembly in November 2016.
This followed reports in the Mail & Guardian that Mahlobo had said the student leader had been to his house a number of times.
Mahlobo made the comments while speaking at a panel discussion hosted by the Institute of Security Studies on November 14.
In a video of the event, posted by a Daily Vox journalist on November 14, Mahlobo says he is not responsible for Dlamini's arrest. Police nabbed him, he said.
"But I happen to know Mcebo. He has been to my house several times," he said, before calling for the country to let the courts deal with the matter.
Two days later, Mahlobo said newspaper reports should not be quoted as facts.
"Mcebo Dlamini has never been to my house. That meeting never took place," he told Parliament.
The Democratic Alliance objected to the matter being referred to the committee, citing the fact that the party had already referred it to the public protector’s office in November.
“Any attempt to have a parliamentary committee do so instead would undermine the Public Protector’s investigation and may help Mahlobo avoid accountability for violating the Executive Ethics Code,” DA chief whip John Steenhuisen said on Wednesday.
He appealed to the Speaker not to let the powers and privileges committee deal with such an important matter.
“Although we have little doubt that Mahlobo holds the National Assembly in contempt, we believe he made himself guilty of a more serious breach when he deliberately misled the House on 16 November 2016.
“We cannot allow the powers and privileges committee to fudge this important matter, especially amid a growing trend of members of the executive lying to the House,” Steenhuisen said.