Parliament unapologetic about heavy police presence

Public order police look on at striking Nehawu workers. (Jenni Evans, News24)
Public order police look on at striking Nehawu workers. (Jenni Evans, News24)

Cape Town - Parliament remains unapologetic about the large contingent of police officers which were deployed at the institution to deal with striking workers.

Addressing the Cape Town Press Club on Thursday, National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete, National Council of Provinces Chairperson Thandi Modise and Deputy Speaker Lechesa Tsenoli said it had been necessary to finish the work of Parliament.

For almost a week, more than 80 policemen and women have been stationed inside and outside Parliament, following a three-week protest by workers.

The police were stationed at all gates, outside parliamentary sittings and committee rooms, and at various entrances to prevent striking workers from getting through.

While there to enforce an interdict against strikers, the police were mostly sitting in their vans, under the shade, while protesters sang and danced outside the gates.

Mbete said she was not surprised by the heavy police presence after workers disrupted House sittings and committee work.

"We needed them, we needed them. And that we are unapologetic about it."

She said she had been disappointed that the Nehawu-affiliated workers had broken policy and laws during their three-week strike.

Modise said the police were necessary to ensure the work of Parliament continued.

"We cannot say we were very happy to see police there, yes, under those circumstances we had to ensure the programme of Parliament is done and done well."

Tsenoli said the police were given clear instructions.

"You enable us to do our work without disruption, that’s your responsibility."

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