- Dali Mpofu threatened Qubudile Dyantyi, chair of the Section 194 Committee which is inquiring into his client, Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane's fitness for office.
- MPs from the DA, FF Plus and ANC said Mpofu should be investigated in terms of the Powers and Privileges Act.
- The Act states that it is illegal for anyone to threaten an MP in the exercise of their duties, and it could carry a sentence of up to three years.
Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane's advocate, Dali Mpofu SC, threatened the chairperson of the Section 194 Inquiry, ANC MP Qubudile Dyantyi, and several MPs asked that he be investigated for it.
In terms of the Powers, Privileges and Immunities of Parliament and Provincial Legislatures Act - commonly referred to as the Powers and Privileges Act - it is illegal to threaten an MP in the performance of their functions, and it could carry a prison sentence of up to three years.
On Tuesday morning, Mpofu asked for a postponement to work on the litigation following the Western Cape High Court ruling which overturned President Cyril Ramaphosa's suspension of Mkhwebane. The DA subsequently appealed to the Constitutional Court, and Mkhwebane applied to the High Court to uphold its ruling while this case was underway.
Ramaphosa, acting Public Protector Kholeka Gcaleka, the ATM, UDM and PAC subsequently joined the latter matter, and according to Mpofu, there has been a "flurry" of court papers that he needed to respond to, and he couldn't prepare for the cross-examination of witness Nelisiwe Thejane.
Furthermore, he said Mkhwebane was sick and at her doctor and couldn't attend the proceedings.
As he has done throughout proceedings, Mpofu interrupted and spoke over Dyantyi, and Dyantyi eventually asked that he be muted.
In one exchange, Mpofu said: "You are not entitled to abuse me like you are abusing me. I'm senior to you in many ways, not just in age, but in many ways. You know it. So, you have no right to abuse me. But fine, you have the power now, you can exercise it, but you'll pay one day, ja."
Dyantyi, smiling, said: "Are you threatening me now?"
To which Mpofu responded: "Ja."
Dyantyi asked him to conclude, and Mpofu said: "Actually, it is not a threat. It is a promise."
DA deputy chief whip Annelie Lotriet said she was extremely concerned about what Mpofu had said to Dyantyi as, in terms of the Powers and Privileges Act, no MP may be threatened when conducting their duties. FF Plus chief whip Corné Mulder agreed.
ANC MP Violet Siwela said she was a "little bit disappointed" and suggested that Dyanyti looked into it in terms of the Powers and Privileges Act.
ANC deputy chief whip Doris Dlakude also agreed with Lotriet and Mulder.
"What we are pleading for is that there should be no threats to anyone," said Dlakude.
Mpofu was backed up by ATM leader Vuyolwethu Zungula, UDM leader Bantu Holomisa, and EFF MP Omphile Maotwe.
Dyantyi denied Mpofu's request, saying he could continue with his cross-examination on 21 September, but the MPs will continue to ask questions of the witness.
This led to another monologue by Mpofu, and when Dyantyi tried to proceed, he once again spoke over him.
Mpofu was once supported by Maotwe, Zungula and Holomisa. The latter suggested that Mpofu should challenge it in court.
Section 8 of the Powers, Privileges and Immunities of Parliament and Provincial Legislatures states:
8. (1) A person may not by fraud, intimidation, force, insult or threat of any kind, or by the offer or promise of any inducement or benefit of any kind, or by any other improper means-
(a) influence a member in the performance of the member's functions as a member;
(b) induce a member to be absent from Parliament or a House or committee; or
(c) attempt to compel a member to declare himself or herself in favour of or against anything pending before or proposed or expected to be submitted to Parliament or a House or committee.
Section 27 (1) of the Act further states: "A person, including a member, who contravenes Section 7 or 8 (1) commits an offence and is liable to a fine or to imprisonment for a period not exceeding three years or to both the fine and the imprisonment."