MP Paulsen's 'threat' led to panic attack - Van Damme

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Phumzile van Damme.
Phumzile van Damme.
Jan Gerber, News24
  • DA MP Phumzile van Damme said EFF MP Nazier Paulsen's threat against her triggered her PTSD.
  • This after a tense sitting of the National Assembly the previous day.
  • Paulsen denied that he threatened Van Damme.

DA MP Phumzile van Damme said EFF MP Nazier Paulsen's alleged threat to beat her up during Tuesday's plenary of the National Assembly triggered her Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), which led to a panic attack.

At the sitting, both MPs were shown the door after heated exchanges between the DA and EFF in the chamber.

Paulsen was the first ordered out of the house by Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly Lechesa Tsenoli. Van Damme waved at him as he made his way to the door.

Paulsen could be seen pointing in Van Damme's direction. She then got in a heated exchange with other EFF MPs and Tsenoli ordered her to leave the house.

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

Paulsen had earlier said she should go back to Eswatini and DA chief whip Natasha Mazzone to Italy.

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

As she was leaving, Mazzone rose on a point of order and said Paulsen had said he would be waiting outside for Van Damme. She requested a police escort for Van Damme. Tsenoli said it wouldn't be necessary.

Two male DA MPs went outside after Van Damme.

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

"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," Ntlangwini said.

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

On Wednesday, Van Damme tweeted: 

"I rise to let the Deputy Speaker know that Paulsen just threatened to beat me up, instead of taking this up, he tells me I was 'provocative', and kicks me out of the House. The joys of being a woman, isn't it lovely?"

She added that she had a panic attack outside the chamber, and Mazzone talked her through it.

"I thought I was & drove home battling another one that hit. And another that hit when I got home. That is my life after experiences of violence with men, PTSD."

Paulsen responded to Van Damme's initial tweet.

"I would never do that to @zilevandamme or any woman. She needs to be honest about this."

He claimed Van Damme had charged "to attack" him in the courtyard and swore at him.

Wednesday's sitting of the National Assembly proceeded without major incident, albeit that the tension between the EFF and DA remained.

When State Security Minister Ayanda Dlodlo didn't answer a question as she indicated it will be referred to the Joint Standing Committee on Intelligence, DA MP Geordin Hill-Lewis protested to house chairperson Madala Ntombela, who didn't agree with him.

As Hill-Lewis tried to raise further points of order on the matter, EFF MPs on the virtual platform chimed in and said he should sit down.

EFF MP Hlengiwe Mkhaliphi said: "Why don't you call the bouncers to take him out?"

Ntombela ordered them to remain silent, to no avail. He then ordered that they be removed from the virtual platform.

"It is because we are black," said EFF MP Omphile Maotwe before she was cut off.

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

Also in 2018, Paulsen was charged with contravention of the Domestic Violence Act after he allegedly violated part of a court order which prohibits him from entering the premises of his ex-wife, the Daily Voice reported at the time.

In 2019, Paulsen appeared in court on a charge of assault after an altercation with a man outside his ex-wife's home.

Several other EFF members – including party leader Julius Malema, his deputy, Floyd Shivambu, and senior members Mbuyiseni Ndlozi and Marshall Dlamini – have been charged with assault.

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