EFF's Paulsen, DA's Van Damme kicked out of National Assembly after tensions boil over

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Tensions boiled over at a National Assembly sitting.
Tensions boiled over at a National Assembly sitting.
Jeffrey Abrahams, Gallo Images
  • EFF MP Nazier Paulsen and DA MP Phumzile van Damme have both been shown the door during a sitting of the National Assembly.
  • Van Damme said that Paulsen threatened her.
  • Paulsen also made xenophobic remarks to Van Damme and DA chief whip Natasha Mazzone.

Deputy speaker Lechesa Tsenoli kicked EFF MP Nazier Paulsen and DA MP Phumzile van Damme out of a hybrid sitting of the National Assembly on Tuesday as tension simmered between the two opposition parties.

Van Damme, who was ordered out after Paulsen, was accompanied by two male DA MPs after Paulsen allegedly threatened to deal with her outside the House.

Earlier in the imbroglio, Paulsen also told her to go back to Swaziland, and DA chief whip Natasha Mazzone, to go back to Italy.

As he left, Van Damme waved at him and Tsenoli warned her not to be provocative, or she would follow him out. Paulsen could be seen pointing in the direction of Van Damme. She said he threatened to beat her up.

She then got in a heated exchange with other EFF MPs, and Tsenoli ordered her to leave the House.

Mogamad Nazier Paulsen
The EFF's Mogamad Nazier Paulsen. (Photo by Gallo Images/Netwerk24/Adrian de Kock)

Van Damme said: "Gladly, gladly. You allow women to be threatened here and you allow them to be xenophobic."

As she was leaving, Mazzone rose on a point of order and said Paulsen had said he would be waiting for Van Damme outside. She asked for a police escort for Van Damme. Tsenoli said she would not be touched and that there were people to ensure that it did not happen.

DA MP Chris Hunsinger followed Van Damme outside the chamber, with another DA MP close behind.

EFF MP Natasha Ntlangwini said what had been said about Paulsen was "totally wrong".

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"Nazier has never threatened Phumzile van Damme, and Nazier, I have worked 10 years with him, he will never lay a hand on any woman."

"Honourable member, take your seat, because I heard what he said," Tsenoli said.

The tensions boiled over after a statement by EFF MP Naledi Chirwa, with Tsenoli ordering her to withdraw some comments about Health Minister Zweli Mkhize, which she did.

Tsenoli complained about the behaviour of MPs, to which Paulsen responded that the problem was old people in the speaker's chair.

Phumzile van Damme
The DA's Phumzile van Damme.
News24 Jan Gerber, News24

What exactly happened then isn't clear from the hybrid sitting's broadcast, as the visuals momentarily cut to another MP's zoom screen. When the visuals returned, Mazzone was between Paulsen and some DA MPs with her arms spread out.

Paulsen said DA MP Kevin Mileham had charged at him.

"I want to see you deal with a white boy in this House! Show me you have the guts to deal with a white boy!" Paulsen said, pointing at Tsenoli.

Tsenoli ordered him to withdraw, which he eventually did, but much more shouting and speaking over Tsenoli – from both opposition parties – ensued.

Eventually, Ntlangwini and Mazzone apologised for their parties' behaviour, with Mazzone arguing that as chief whip she had a duty to try and prevent a physical altercation by getting between the DA MPs and Paulsen.

Nonetheless, Tsenoli struggled to restore calm until he kicked Paulsen and Van Damme out.

In 2018, Paulsen jumped over a bench to physically confront Agang MP Andries Tlouamma.

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