Mthembu: Not necessary to use Parly Protection Services to eject journos

ANC Chief Whip Jackson Mthembu says journalists deserve an apology after being confronted by at least 16 parliamentary security officials stationed inside and outside a meeting venue.

FILE: African National Congress (ANC) chief whip Jackson Mthembu. Picture: AFP

CAPE TOWN - ANC Chief Whip Jackson Mthembu has slammed a decision to summon Parliamentary Protection Services to ensure journalists left a committee meeting after it was decided that proceedings would continue behind closed doors.

The Special Investigating Unit, the Hawks and the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) wanted the Water and Sanitation committee meeting on Wednesday to unfold behind closed doors because they planned to name those in ongoing investigations and pending court cases, linked to corruption and other wrongdoing in the department.

But it appears that proper procedures were not followed.

The parliamentary Press Gallery Association has described the presence of parliamentary security officials as intended to intimidate journalists.

Mthembu says journalists deserve an apology after being confronted by at least 16 parliamentary security officials stationed inside and outside the meeting’s venue.

“It was not necessary to bring in Parliamentary Protection Services as if we are dealing with thugs.”

DA Chief Whip John Steenhuisen adds: “The chairperson himself boasted in the meeting that he had people on hand to remove journalists (if necessary).”

House chairperson Cedric Frolick also criticised the decision to call in security.

“I call it an over-the-top reaction.”

Frolick says he will be meeting with the parliamentary Press Gallery Association on Thursday. He says he’s already made an apology for what happened and will also be taking the matter up with Water and Sanitation committee chairperson, ANC MP Lulu Johnson.

(Edited by Shimoney Regter)