SONA: Parliament denies mounting claims of police action against EFF_1

Parliament has officially denied EFF claims that its security staff and bouncers are in cahoots to rough up the party in red should they attempt to disrupt President Cyril Ramaphosa’s State of the Nation Address (SONA) on Thursday evening 13 February.

But other impeccably placed sources with no EFF links have confirmed to TheSouthAfrican that the current plan – which may well change now that its cover has been blown – is indeed correct.

“Of course we are cooperating with the police, as we do with SONA every year. We will not act illegally. We have enough powers as stipulated in the Powers and Privileges of Parliament Act to ensure that the SONA is not disrupted. Those making the allegations will not find any evidence of what they claim,” said parliamentary spokesperson Moloto Mothapo.

Sources claim ‘informers all over’

However, well-placed sources told TheSouthAfrican that details of what the police and parliamentary security top brass are planning have been shrouded in a veil of secrecy with many security staff not openly being told what is going on.

“Deon van der Spuy [one of Parliament’s top security staff] and the ‘whiteshirts’ [parliamentary bouncers] have been meeting all week, coordinating their radio communication and CCTV cameras. They will also have informers all over the institution to give them information from the ground,” a source told TheSouthAfrican.

In 2015, Parliament recruited members of the public order policing squad into the service of Parliament to act as bouncers who could use violence to evict MPs who refuse to leave the National Assembly when ordered to do so by the presiding officers (such as the speaker of the National Assembly) and the sergeant-at-arms. 

Specially trained SONA bouncers

At that year’s SONA, the bouncers, who had been specially trained at a police facility in the Cape Town suburb of Bishop Lavis, injured several opposition MPs whom they had specifically targeted. One such MP, Reneilwe Mashabela, who was older than 60 years at the time, had her jaw broken and was hospitalised for a protracted period.

This Thursday, Mashabela, who is still an EFF MP, may face a rerun because her party has vowed that it will “make a peaceful SONA impossible” and will “speak when Ramaphosa speaks” because the president has refused to fire Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan.

As for the public, they may be well advised to stock up on the popcorn for Thursday night, because everything points to a dramatic and possibly violent SONA.