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Judgment expected in police in Parliament case

The court will decide whether National Assembly officers can order police to remove MPs from Parliament.

Speaker Baleka Mbete. Picture: Thomas Holder/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - Judgment is expected this morning in the Constitutional Court in a case about whether the National Assembly's presiding officers should be allowed to order police to remove MPs from Parliament.

Last year, President Jacob Zuma's State of the Nation Address was interrupted after plain clothed police officers were called into the National Assembly chamber to remove Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) MPs who had disrupted his speech.

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The Democratic Allaince took the issue to the Western Cape High Court, which ruled in its favour, government is challenging that decision.

Last year, the DA argued before the highest court in the land that arresting members of Parliament was at odds with the Constitution and the doctrine of the separation of powers.

The opposition party believes if a section of the powers and privileges of Parliament Act, which grants the speaker the right to eject MPs is left unchallenged, the executive will continue to interfere in what should be the business of Parliament.

The DA argued MPs should not be stopped from doing their work and that they shouldn't be arrested on the speaker's orders.

But counsel for Baleka Mbete told the justices that arrested MPs faced no criminal consequences and that removing them from Parliament was the equivalent of a time out or yellow card.