Parliament probes sexual assault claims by EFF MPs thrown out of chaotic sittings

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  • National Assembly Speaker Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula has ordered an investigation into last week's chaotic parliamentary sittings.
  • Violence broke out when EFF MPs were thrown out of the chamber by parliamentary security personnel.
  • Some female EFF MPs claimed they were sexually assaulted as they were being removed.

National Assembly Speaker Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula has ordered an investigation into allegations that female EFF MPs were sexually assaulted during last week’s fracas with Parliamentary Protection Services (PPS) personnel.

Last Thursday and Friday, the National Assembly convened for the presidency budget vote, delivered by President Cyril Ramaphosa, but was subjected to repeated points of orders by the EFF, who later violently clashed with security officials.

Allegations that female EFF MPs were touched on their private parts as they were removed from the parliamentary chamber and the assault of PPS staff are the critical matters of the probe.

READ | Ramaphosa says budget debate was lively despite disruptions, and ejection of rowdy EFF MPs

The sittings descended into chaos when several EFF MPs were violently removed from the chamber, preventing Ramaphosa from proceeding with his speech for hours.

Last Friday, during Ramaphosa's reply to the speech, matters worsened when female EFF MPs fought with female security officials. At the same time, their male counterparts threw punches and resisted being thrown out by security officials.

Mapisa-Nqakula ordered the removal of the EFF MPs following their disruptive conduct and repeatedly raising points of orders over Ramaphosa's presence in the National Assembly, given the farm theft allegations against him.

On Monday, Mapisa-Nqakula's office confirmed EFF deputy leader and chief whip Floyd Shivambu submitted a complaint calling on Mapisa-Nqakula to conduct an investigation into the "allegations of gender-based violence" committed against female EFF MPs by PPS personnel.

Parliament's spokesperson, Moloto Mothapo, said:

Amongst those allegedly violated during both sittings on the debate of vote 1: presidency budget vote and reply to the debate by the president are Babalwa Mathulelwa, Noluvuyo Tafeni and Naledi Chirwa. The three are amongst EFF MPs who had to be removed from the chamber for a highly disruptive behaviour which saw the debate on the presidency budget vote delayed by over an hour and the subsequent reply by the president the day after being temporarily suspended.

Chirwa was one of the vocal EFF MPs who claimed that female MPs were touched on their private parts as they were removed from the chamber.

Given this allegation, Mapisa-Nqakula ordered on Friday that only female security officers remove female MPs.

Mapisa-Nqakula also received reports that two PPS personnel, Khunjulwa Sinono and Khaya Honey Vanqa, suffered abuse, assault and intimidation from the EFF MPs during their removal process.

"Sinono, in particular, sustained an injury to her face after being allegedly assaulted by a male EFF MP. She immediately received medical attention, and both have since opened criminal cases with the Cape Town [central police [station]. Gender-based violence, whether committed against female Members of Parliament or female members of staff, must be condemned in the strongest terms," Mothapo said.

Rules for MPs:

  • MPs may not engage in grossly disorderly conduct in the chamber and its forums.
  • Should an MP refuse to leave the chamber when ordered, a presiding officer must instruct the Serjeant-at-Arms to remove the MP from the chamber and the parliamentary precincts.
  • If the Serjeant-at-Arms is unable in person to effect the removal of the MP, the presiding officer may call upon the PPS to assist in removing the MP from the chamber and the precincts of Parliament.
  • If an MP resists attempts to be removed from the chamber, the Serjeant-at-Arms and the PPS may use such force as may be reasonably necessary to overcome any resistance.

Furthermore, Mothapo said the forceful removal of disruptive MPs was not a decision taken lightly.

"It is taken as a last resort after all other avenues have been explored to protect the rights of the rest of the public representatives to fulfil their constitutional obligations and that of the public, whose hopes and aspirations for a better future rests with Parliament, to have the institution perform its business," he said.

WATCH | EFF MPs thrown out after disrupting Ramaphosa's budget vote, calling him a money launderer

Mothapo said society was suffering from the trauma of violence perpetrated by men against women.

"This continues to represent a direct attack on the fundamental values of our democracy and the Constitution. Parliament must lead society in this battle and, therefore, will never tolerate such acts, particularly within its precincts," he said.

Mapisa-Nqakula committed to instituting an internal investigation into all these allegations swiftly.

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