Advocacy group demands answers on Sona signal jamming

The WC High Court heard that the NIA was responsible for the signal jamming.

FILE: The Open Democracy Advice Centre wants to know exactly who ordered the use of cellphone jamming devices in Parliament during the president’s State of the Nation Address (Sona) last week. Picture: Thomas Holder/EWN

CAPE TOWN - The Right2Know campaign says there needs to be more clarity about why state security is involved in the policing of Parliament.

The organisation says the fact that the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) may have been involved in the jamming of cellphone signals in Parliament is concerning.

The Western Cape High Court on Tuesday heard the NIA was responsible for the use of these devices ahead of Sona.

Several organisations including Primedia Broadcasting, Media 24 other media houses, brought an urgent application to prohibit the use of mobile network blocking devices in the National Assembly in the future.

Spokesperson Murray Hunter says, "They have subsequently evaded answering on it, there is also no clarity as to why state security was involved in the policing of Parliament at all and we see a number of other concerns around the way the security clearance cluster has involved itself in our democratic processes."

At the same time, the Open Democracy Advice Centre wants to know exactly who ordered the use of cellphone jamming devices in Parliament.

WATCH: Ahead of the Sona, MPs demanded that cellphone signal be restored.

The centre's Alison Tilley says, "We are really going to be looking to the State Security Agency to answer some of these questions that have come up, if Parliament didn't know that the jammers were going to be there, then who did know and why."

Representing Parliament, Norman Arendse on Tuesday described the Sona signal jamming debacle as "once off".

Arendse indicated the lawyer for the Minister of State Security would speak further on the matter at a later stage.

The court postponed an urgent interim relief application initiated by Primedia Broadcasting to next Thursday.

The document submitted by media houses described the use of signal jamming devices as "unlawful" and, in some circumstances during an open sitting of Parliament, "unconstitutional".