'Maphatsoe is an idiot'
David Maynier was ordered to leave the National Assembly when he refused to withdraw his comments.
JOHANNESBURG - Deputy Minister of Defence and Military Veterans Kebby Maphatsoe has been called an idiot for claiming Public Protector Thuli Madonsela is a CIA agent.
The insult was delivered by Democratic Alliance (DA) Member of Parliament (MP) David Maynier, who was ordered to leave the National Assembly this afternoon when he refused to withdraw it.
"Deputy Speaker I refuse to withdraw my remark that Maphatsoe is an idiot because he is an idiot."
At the weekend, the Umkhonto We Sizwe Military Veterans Association (Mkmva) chair accused Madonsela of being a CIA spy deployed to destabilise the African National Congress (ANC) and ultimately the country.
Maphatsoe was addressing hundreds of people at the unveiling of a tombstone for former Umkhonto we Sizwe combatant Linda Jabane in Soweto.
Earlier, DA Parliamentary leader Mmusi Maimane slammed Maphatsoe's comments, which have sparked a potential diplomatic row.
The American government has called the claims senseless and offensive.
The allegation by Maphatsoe was made in the wake of Madonsela's letter to Zuma last month in which she demanded answers as to when he would respond to her Nkandla report.
The Nkandla upgrades came under heavy criticism in a report by Madonsela in March which said President Jacob Zuma had "benefitted unduly" from some of the upgrades, which included a cattle enclosure and amphitheatre, and that he should pay back some of the costs of the unnecessary renovations.
The public protector has given the deputy minister a 72-hour deadline to retract his statement or provide proof of his allegation.
Furthermore, Economic Freedom Fighters leader Julius Malema and chief whip Floyd Shivambu accused Maphatsoe of lying to Parliament but were ordered to withdraw their statements, which they eventually did.
Earlier, the deputy defence minister said his comments about Madonsela have been misinterpreted.
He told MPs he rejects the allegations against him and his comments were misunderstood.
"The journalist who published that article was not at the event."
The ANC has since distanced itself from the comments and called on people to respect Madonsela's office.
At the same time, the South African National Defence Union's Pikkie Greeff has called on the president to fire Maphatsoe for being the country into disrepute.
"These claims are false and they in fact constitute a criminal offence in terms of the Public Protector Act."