Police obstruct Steenhuisen, other MPs from entering Parliament before Budget speech

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DA interim leader John Steenhuisen confronting police officers allegedly involved in obstructing his entrance to Parliament before Wednesday's budget speech. (Jan Gerber/News24)
DA interim leader John Steenhuisen confronting police officers allegedly involved in obstructing his entrance to Parliament before Wednesday's budget speech. (Jan Gerber/News24)

National Assembly Speaker Thandi Modise will investigate why police obstructed some opposition MPs, including the leader of the opposition John Steenhuisen, from entering the Parliamentary precinct ahead of Wednesday's budget speech.

A visibly agitated DA interim leader Steenhuisen arrived at his bench when Finance Minister Tito Mboweni was a few minutes into his speech. He had a quick word with DA chief whip Natasha Mazzone.

After Mboweni concluded his speech, Mazzone rose on a point of privilege.

READ | Budget 2020 in a nutshell | No major tax changes and ambitious proposal to cut state wage bill

She said Steenhuisen and some other DA MPs were prevented from entering the precinct in contravention of the Powers, Privileges and Immunities of Parliaments and Provincial Legislatures Act.

Section 7(c) of this act states a person may not "threaten or obstruct a member proceeding to or going from a meeting of Parliament or a House or committee".

"Sit down! Sit down!" ANC MPs yelled why she spoke, but Modise allowed her to continue.

EFF MP Mbuyiseni Ndlozi also stood up and said it also happened to some of their members.

"There is terrible oversecuritisation," Ndlozi said. He said it amounted to intimidation of members.

Modise said: "I will investigate the matter and I will report back."

The DA MPs applauded.

As MPs flooded out of the chamber, Steenhuisen talked to Ndlozi and an animated EFF leader Julius Malema.

"It's targeted," Ndlozi could be heard saying.

Outside Poorthuis, one of the exits of the Parliamentary buildings, Steenhuisen confronted high-ranking officers – believed to be two brigadiers and a general - who prevented his entrance. While News24 was filming this on a cellphone, one of the officers walked over and tried to prevent the filming.

Standing order 156 of the police states that "a media representative may not be prohibited from taking photographs or making visual recordings".

"It's just ridiculous that a Member of Parliament can't go to their place of work," Steenhuisen later told News24.

"I've never ever experienced this in Parliament, except in the Zuma era."

He said it seemed that the police were trying to take control of the People's Parliament.

He said he would lay a charge if there was no apology.

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