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Parly meeting into corruption, wrongdoing at Water Dept goes behind closed doors

The committee is to hear from the Special Investigating Unit and the Hawks about their probes, as well as from the National Prosecuting Authority on criminal proceedings.

FILE: Gugile Nkwinti, Water and Sanitation Minister. Picture: GCIS

CAPE TOWN - Parliament’s water and sanitation committee has decided to hear from investigators into corruption and wrongdoing in the department behind closed doors.

Members of the media were ordered to leave after the committee took a resolution to this effect on Wednesday afternoon. About 16 parliamentary security officials in plain clothes were stationed inside and outside the meeting venue.

The committee is hearing from the Special Investigating Unit and the Hawks about their probes, as well as from the National Prosecuting Authority on criminal proceedings.

National Assembly rules state that all parliamentary committee meetings be open to the public, including the media, except under certain circumstances – but the confidentiality must be reasonable and justifiable in an open and democratic society.

Chairperson Lulu Johnson says allowing the media access to the meeting could prejudice those who are under investigation.

“Given the nature of the issues that we’re dealing with, which are very important and equally very sensitive when any investigation by a law enforcement agency happens, it clearly becomes a matter of concern and sensitivity in the context of anyone out there as the media reports… anyone out there who shall be investigated obviously may be prejudiced against.”

African National Congress Members of Parliament pushed for the meeting to be closed. The Democratic Alliance challenged this, saying MPs had no idea what information was about to be given to them and so they had no basis on which to decide.

The SIU, the Hawks and the NPA all argued in favour of the meeting being closed, citing the need to protect ongoing investigations, legal risks in naming names and matters being sub judice as they are due to be put on to court rolls.

The Press Gallery Association is set to take the matter up with National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete and House Chairperson Cedric Frolick.

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