National Assembly Rules
Physical Removal of Member from Chamber on Removal of members from Committee Room E249 during mini-plenary debate on Budget Vote 11: Public Enterprises on 11 July 2019
Hansard: 11 July 2019 & Video
Powers, Privileges and Immunities of Parliaments and Provincial Legislatures Act 4 of 2004
Powers, Privileges and Immunities of Parliament and Provincial Legislatures Amendment Act 9 of 2019
In this virtual meeting, the Committee finalised its sanctions against the relevant members involved in the
Public Enterprises Budget Vote 2019 incident. In the previous meeting the Committee deliberated on the closing arguments and came to the conclusion that all the Members who were charged should be found guilty. The Committee returned a guilty verdict. Subsequently, the Committee communicated its position to the charged Members. The charged Members were invited to make representations on the sanction that the Committee would need to impose. No representations were received. The Committee had received a letter from the charged Members’ attorneys who requested that the Committee postpone imposing the sanction until the review application was finalised. The Committee took the view that it would proceed. There was nothing legally stopping the Committee from proceeding.
The Initiator made submissions on appropriate penalty relating to the events of 11 July 2019 in Parliament. The relevant considerations in respect of any possible penalties were presented, specifically in terms of the seriousness of the charges, acknowledgement of wrongdoing, any previous incidents and the interests of Parliament. The various charges were outlined in terms of the seriousness thereof. It was advised that imposing appropriate penalties would limit the likelihood of similar conduct in future.
It was agreed that the appropriate sanction the Committee would recommend to the House in relation to the two Members, Mr Matiase and Ms Sonti, was section 12(5)(g) which stated ‘suspension of a Member with or without remuneration for a period not exceeding 30 days, whether or not the House or any of its Committees was scheduled to meet during that period.’ With regards to the other 14 Members, the recommended sanction to the House would be 12(5)(f) which stated that ‘a fine, not exceeding the equivalent of one month’s salary, and allowances payable to each one of these Members by virtue of the Remuneration of Public Office Bearers Act, 20 of 1998.’
The Committee emphasised that the decorum of Parliament needed to be maintained.
The Committee noted the EFF’s objection to the entire process.
The Support Team would prepare a report with the Committee’s recommendations to the House.
The Chairperson stated that the Committee was convening to finalise the sanction. In the previous meeting the Committee deliberated on the closing arguments and came to the conclusion that all the Members who were charged should be found guilty. The Committee returned a guilty verdict. Subsequently, the Committee communicated its position to the charged Members. The charged Members were invited to make representations on the sanction that the Committee would need to impose. No representations were received, as far as he was aware. The Committee had received a letter from the charged Members’ attorneys who requested that the Committee postpone imposing the sanction until the review application was finalised. The Committee took the view that it would proceed. There was nothing legally stopping the Committee from proceeding.
Advocate Mayosi, who was appointed as the Initiator, had finalised her submissions. He hoped that the Committee members had gone through the written submissions. Advocate Mayosi would take the Committee through the submission before the Committee deliberated on the appropriate sanction.
Ms G Tseke (ANC) communicated the apology of Ms D Dlakude (ANC).
Presentation of penalty submissions
Advocate Ncumisa Mayosi emphasised the seriousness of the charges of contempt of Parliament that the named Members had been found guilty and provided a summary of the penalty submissions.
Section 12(5) of the Act
The Act reads as follows: “12(5) When a House finds a Member guilty of contempt, the House may, in addition to any other penalty to which the Member may be liable under this Act or any other law, impose anyone or more of the following penalties.
(a) A formal warning;
(b) a reprimand;
(c) an order to apologise to Parliament or the House or any person, in a manner determined by the House;
(d) the withholding, for a specified period, of the member’s right to the use or the enjoyment of any specified facility provided to members by Parliament;
(e) the removal, or the suspension for a specified period, of the member from any Parliamentary position occupied by the member;
(f) a fine not exceeding the equivalent of one month’s salary and allowances payable to the member concerned by virtue of the Remuneration of Public Office Bearers Act, 1998 (Act No.20 of 1998);
(g) the suspension of the member, with or without remuneration, for a period not exceeding 30 day, whether or not the House or any of its committees is scheduled to meet during that period.”
Relevant considerations in respect of any possible penalty or penalties
It is respectfully submitted that in the circumstances of this matter, the factors to be considered by the Committee in aggravation, or mitigation, in determining the appropriate penalty or penalties to be imposed on the named Honourable Members include the following:
1. The seriousness of the charges of contempt of Parliament which the named Honourable Members have been found guilty of, as well as the nature and severity of the their conduct;
2. Acknowledgement of wrongdoing and remorse on the part of the named Honourable Members, as well their co-operation with the work of the Committee;
3. Any previous incidents involving the named Honourable Members; and
4. The interests of Parliament.
The charges of contempt which the Honourable Members were found guilty of:
- Honourable Members Matiase, Hlonyana and Komane were each found guilty of seven charges of contempt of Parliament. Two of the seven charges relate to their persistence in the raising of “points of order” in a manner that was contrary to the Rules, and further in a manner that was deliberately designed to, and did, disrupt the proceedings of the day.
- As a result of their conduct, these three Honourable Members were each found guilty of conduct constituting contempt of Parliament in terms of section 13(c) of the Act, in that they improperly interfered with, or impeded the ability of the House to exercise its authority or functions, contrary to section 7(a) of the Act; and their conduct further contravened section 7(b) of the Act in that it improperly interfered with the performance by the Minister of Public Enterprises of his functions as a member of Parliament.
- Honourable Members Matiase, Hlonyana and Komane ignored the rulings of the House Chairperson Boroto, who presided over the proceedings, regarding the “points of order” that they had raised, and which they were repeatedly raising. According to House Chairperson Boroto, when Honourable Member Hlonyana said, pointedly: ‘This man is not going to speak here today’, to her that was a threat to the Minister, and to the House.
- These Honourable Members acted deliberately and wilfully when they refused to heed the presiding officer’s rulings, which were final and binding. Their conduct improperly interfered with and / or impeded the exercise of performance by the House of its authority and functions. Their conduct succeeded in disrupting the Minister’s attempts to perform his functions and fulfil his obligations to Parliament. This type of contempt of Parliament is very serious.
The remaining charges of which Honourable Members Matiase, Hlonyana and Komane were found guilty were for contempt of Parliament in terms of improperly interfered with and impeded the exercise or performance by the House of its authority and functions, contrary to section 7(a) of the Act;
- Improperly interfered with the performance by the Minister of Public Enterprises of his functions as a member of Parliament, contrary to section 7(b); and
- Created and took part in a disturbance within the Parliamentary precinct, whilst the House was meeting, in contravention of section 7(e) of the Act.
- section 13(c) of the Act in that by crossing the floor of the House, in contravention of the Rules – effectively charging towards the Minister of Public Enterprises - they:
- In addition to Honourable Members Matiase, Hlonyana and Komane, the Honourable Members that have been found guilty of these charges are: Honourable Ceza; Honourable Chabangu; Honourable Langa; Honourable Madlingozi; Honourable Mohlala; Honourable Montwedi; Honourable Msane; Honourable Mthenjane; Honourable Paulsen; Honourable Shembeni; Honourable Siwisa; and Honourable Tito. Each one of these named Members faced five (5) charges arising from this conduct, and they were found guilty of all.
- The affected Honourable Members engaged in conduct that required the invocation by the Presiding Officer, first, of Rule 70 ordering the named Members to leave the House, and thereafter of Rule 73 being the instruction to the Serjeant-at-Arms, and then Parliamentary Protection Services to remove the affected Members from the House immediately. The affected Members engaged in conduct that was grossly disorderly, in disregard of the Presiding Officer and which properly resulted in invoking Rules 70 and 73.
- The said Honourable Members acted deliberately. They engaged in conduct that created serious disorder and disruption in the House. They undermined the authority of the Presiding Officer, refusing to obey her rulings and repeatedly interrupting her as she was addressing the House. Their conduct was so serious that it was appropriate and reasonable for the Presiding Officer to instruct the Serjeant-at-Arms and thereafter Parliamentary Protection Services to immediately remove the affected Members from the Chamber for the remainder of the day’s sitting. During their removal from the House, the affected Members were physically intervening, obstructing or hindering their own removal, when the Presiding Officer had ordered such removal.
Acknowledgement of wrongdoing & co-operation with Committee
- The named Honourable Members have not acknowledged any wrongdoing whatsoever nor remorse for their conduct.
- The named Members did not attend the rescheduled hearings; their attorney of record and counsel were in attendance.
- The legal representatives of the affected members raised various substantive and procedural complaints in connection with the conduct of the Committee.
- They then advised the Committee that they had been instructed to withdraw from the proceedings; and that their clients would not attend the hearings.
- They have since launched legal proceedings in the Western Cape High Court seeking various forms of relief, none of which include interdicting and preventing the continuation of the present process.
Any previous incidents involving the named Honourable Members
- There are two Members in relation to whom previous findings of guilt for contempt of Parliament have been made, and in relation to whom penalties were imposed. Those Members are Honourable Matiase and Honourable Sonti in relation to their conduct in an incident that occurred on 21 August 2014 that involved 20 members of the National Assembly during Question Time to the President.
- At the conclusion of the hearing that followed from that incident, Honourable Matiase was found guilty of two charges
- Honourable Member Sonti was found guilty of contravening section 13(a) read with section 7(a) of the Act in that she interfered with or impeded the performance of the House or its authority or functions by remaining in the House after the sitting had been suspended so that she could leave or be removed from the Chamber in order for the House to continue with its business for that day. The consequence of her refusal was that the House was adjourned before completing its business for that day.
- The penalty that was imposed on Honourable Sonti was an order to apologise as prescribed by the House and a fine equivalent of 14 days salary and allowances payable to her.
- None of the penalties relating to these charges were implemented – as communicated by the Parliamentary Legal Services. This was something the Committee could consider if deemed relevant.
Possible penalties to be imposed
- In accordance with the provisions of section 12(5) of the Act, the Committee may recommend the imposition of, and the House may impose, one or more of the penalties referred to in sections 12(5)(a) to (g) of the Act. It is respectfully submitted that this course of action is appropriate in the circumstances.
- Further, and in accordance with the provisions of section 12(9) of the Act, the Committee may recommend the suspension of, and the House may impose the suspension of any of the named Honourable Members in terms of this section of the Act as they have been found guilty of serious, and in the case of two of them, repeated contempt by the Committee. It is respectfully submitted that this course of action is appropriate in relation to the two Honourable Members who were involved and were found guilty in the 2014 incident, as none of the other penalties set out in section 12(5) of the Act would be sufficient.
- It is submitted that an appropriately serious penalty is warranted in the circumstances of the other members. The members acted intentionally, deliberately and apparently in concert so as to disrupt the proceedings of the House. No amount of reasonable intervention had the effect of the members reconsidering their conduct.
- It is submitted that a sufficient penalty in respect of these members is the penalty set out in section 12(f) of the Act, i.e., a fine not exceeding the equivalent of one month’s salary and allowances payable to each one of these Members by virtue of the Remuneration of Public Office Bearers Act, 20 of 1998.
- It was advised that appropriate penalties would limit the likelihood of similar conduct in future.
The Chairperson reminded the Committee that it had already returned guilty findings. They were required to deliberate on the appropriate sanction. The sanctions were contained in section 12 subsection 5 of the Powers and Privileges Act. There were a range of sanctions that the Committee could recommend to the House to impose. Advocate Mayosi had argued that in respect of two of the Members, for the reasons highlighted, the appropriate sanction would be section 12(5)(g). The appropriate sanction for the other Members would be 12(5)(f) of the Act. He opened the floor for the Committee members to deliberate. The Committee also needed to agree on the issue relating to the outstanding sanction imposed in the fifth Parliament against the two Members, Mr Matiase and Ms Sonti. The matter was taken on review to the Western Cape High Court where the application was dismissed. There was an appeal, that appeal had since been abandoned. This made the position of the Western Cape High Court binding.
Dr M Ndlozi (EFF) asked that the Economic Freedom Fighters objection, to the entire recommendation, be noted.
Mr H Hoosen (DA) stated that having listened carefully to the submissions by Advocate Mayosi, he was in agreement that the Committee should recommend the sanction, as proposed, against the two Members who were repeat offenders. With respect to the additional Members, he agreed that the Committee should recommend the sanctions, as proposed by Advocate Mayosi.
Ms V Siwela (ANC) stated that she was not a legal ‘guru’, but one was tempted to support the Advocate based on the analysis and observations presented, particularly in respect of the issues that occurred in 2014. She supported the submission made by the Advocate, particularly so as to ensure that public representatives behaved properly in the House and that the decorum of the House was protected.
Ms D Peters (ANC) appreciated the report – especially that it provided a historical perspective. This ensured that they dealt with issues relating to the decorum of the House. She fully supported the proposed sanctions relating to the two Members as well as the 14 other Members. She stated that it was important that there was proper differentiation. She recommended that the Committee should follow the process up until the report was tabled in the House. She reiterated that she fully supported the recommendations made by Advocate Mayosi and the proposed sanctions. She had thought that the sanctions would be even heavier than those proposed – but they would not go beyond what the legal prescripts stated.
Discussion of decision to be taken
The Chairperson stated that it was the Committee’s decision that the arguments and submissions of Advocate Mayosi be accepted. The appropriate sanction the Committee would recommend to the House in relation to the two Members, Mr Matiase and Ms Sonti, was section 12(5)(g) which stated ‘suspension of a Member with or without remuneration for a period not exceeding 30 days, whether or not the House or any of its Committees was scheduled to meet during that period.’ With regard to the other 14 Members, the recommended sanction to the House would be 12(5)(f) which stated that ‘a fine, not exceeding the equivalent of one month’s salary, and allowances payable to each one of these Members by virtue of the Remuneration of Public Office Bearers Act, 20 of 1998.’ The Committee further noted Mr Ndlozi’s objection to the entire process.
Advocate Victor Ngaleka, Procedural Advisoe: NA table Staff, Parliament, stated that in terms of section 12(5)(g), he understood that the Chairperson was recommending suspension without remuneration. If one read the relevant section, it stated ‘with or without.’ He suggested that in this case it should be without remuneration.
The Chairperson agreed that it was without remuneration, as recommended. This was the position of the Committee. He thanked Advocate Ngaleka for pointing that out. He asked whether the Committee agreed that the sanction recommended in 2014 be implemented for the two respective Members. The Committee would request a report on the outcome of the High Court application and any implications thereof for Parliament. The Committee would get that report at the next meeting. The Support Team would prepare a report with the Committee’s recommendations to the House.
Advocate Ngaleka suggested that the report be sent to the Chairperson for confirmation before sending it on – correctly capturing the decisions taken by the Committee.
The Chairperson stated that the report would be prepared and then distributed to all the Members to make comments. He asked whether this was agreeable to the Committee. From there it would be sent to be published in Parliament’s Announcements, Tablings and Committee Reports (ATC) and then the House.
Ms B Maluleke (ANC) suggested that a brief meeting should be held after the report was prepared, so that the report could be officially adopted– so as not to leave any loopholes.
The Committee supported this decision.
The Chairperson stated that a 30-minute meeting would be scheduled for the Committee to adopt the report.
Adoption of Minutes of 4 March 2021
The minutes of the meeting held on the 4 March 2021 were shown.
Ms Siwela moved to adopt the Minutes.
Ms Tseke seconded the adoption of the Minutes.
The Minutes of 4 March 2021 were adopted.
The Chairperson stated that the Committee would meet again when the report was adopted. He hoped this would be before Parliament resumed. He asked that Administration prepare a report on the outcome of the Court Case, so that when they reported to the House, they could report on all the matters.
The meeting was adjourned.
Download as PDF
You can download this page as a PDF using your browser's print functionality. Click on the "Print" button below and select the "PDF" option under destinations/printers.
See detailed instructions for your browser here.