DA feels vindicated by ConCourt ruling

The court upheld the ruling that police officers may not remove MPs from the National Assembly.

The Constitutional Court in Johannesburg. Picture: Reinart Toerien/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - Today's Constitutional Court ruling upholding the finding that National Assembly speaker Baleka Mbete's use of police officers to remove Members of Parliament (MPs) from the house is unconstitutional is being hailed as a major victory.

Last year, President Jacob Zuma's State of the Nation Address was interrupted after plain-clothed police officers were brought in to remove Economic Freedom Fighters members who disrupted his speech.

Justice Mbuyiseli Madlanga handed down judgment earlier today.

LISTEN: ConCourt rules that MPs can't be thrown out of the chamber using police officers.

The Democratic Alliance (DA) says it feels vindicated by the Constitutional Court's ruling.

Last year, the party brought an application to the high court arguing that arresting MPs was at odds with the Constitution and the doctrine of the separation of powers.

Deputy chief whip Michael Waters says freedom of speech has finally been entrenched in Parliament.

"Members of Parliament can speak freely without fear or favour or fear of being arrested."

The justices today agreed with the DA that that processes in Parliament can only be meaningful if MPs are given room to freely make their points and express their opinions.


Meanwhile, the ANC in Parliament says the DA's case regarding the constitutionality of the powers of the National Assembly Speaker to remove MPs from the House is purely academic.

The ANC says this case did not challenge the removal of the red berets from Parliament during last year's Sona.

Its accused the DA of using what it calls its usual cheap propaganda to deceive South Africans into believing that MPs were arrested on that night - when in fact they faced no criminal charges and were only given the equivalent of a time out or yellow card.

But the highest court in the land today ruled in the DA's favour - and ordered that section 11 of the Powers and Privileges Act be amended to include "other than a member" - after the word "person".