The Economic Freedom Fighters’ confrontational, in-your-face style of politics could come back to haunt one of its MPs.
Former political prisoner and National Council of Provinces delegate Kenny Motsamai is being investigated by the correctional services department to ascertain whether he violated his parole conditions.
Motsamai went to prison in 1989 for the apartheid-era murder of a traffic officer in Rustenburg. He was released on parole in 2017 but returned to prison for violating parole conditions.
He was re-released in 2018, and a year later was sworn in as an EFF MP. But, Motsamai could return to prison again. He was arrested last week during a protest outside a Clicks store in Evaton and charged with assaulting a police officer and resisting arrest.
Police said there was a confrontation at the entrance of the Clicks store where, “during the scuffle, the door of the Clicks broke, and Motsamai injured himself on the door.” Charges against Motsamai were dismissed by the Sebokeng magistrate’s court this week.
Technically, Motsamai should not qualify for his seat. The Constitution says people who are sentenced to a prison term of more than 12 months without the option of a fine cannot serve in Parliament or any provincial legislature.
But, before the swearing-in ceremony, Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng explained why Motsamai qualified. “The particular delegate was convicted in 1989, and the Constitution took effect in 1996 … So this section seems not to extend to or to exclude that delegate.”
The correctional services department said that, even though the case has been struck from the court roll, it is still waiting for written confirmation from the police. Correctional services spokesperson Singabakho Nxumalo said probation officers are also still conducting their assessment of whether Motsamai violated any of his parole conditions.
“We are aware of the matter, and it is under investigation. A decision will then be taken based on the outcome of the investigation and looking at Motsamai’s parole conditions,” Nxumalo said.
Asked to respond to the possibility that one of its legislators could return to prison, EFF spokesperson Vuyani Pambo tersely said: “Kenny Motsamai is not on parole. He is a free man.”
The NCOP delegate isn’t the only EFF MP currently in trouble with the law. Its president, Julius Malema, alongside Mbuyiseni Ndlozi, faces an assault charge relating to a confrontation with a police officer at the funeral of Winnie Madikizela-Mandela in 2018. The party’s deputy president, Floyd Shivambu, is also in the dock at the Cape Town magistrate’s court. This is for when he was caught on camera choking a journalist on the parliamentary precinct in March 2018. Shivambu has since apologised to Netwerk 24 journalist Adrian de Kock.
EFF secretary general Marshall Dlamini is another of the party’s MPs who faced a charge of assault after he was also filmed slapping a Parliament-based police officer at the State of the Nation address after the 2019 general elections.
Meanwhile, Parliament’s powers and privileges committee this week decided to hold an inquiry into the conduct of EFF MPs for its hostile disruption of a legislature sitting involving Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan.
The matter relates to when, during Gordhan’s July 2019 budget speech, 20 red overall-clad MPs rushed Gordhan, who was presenting his speech from a podium in the centre of one of Parliament’s meeting chambers.
ANC and opposition MPs from the African Christian Democratic Party and Democratic Alliance formed a barrier between the EFF MPs and Gordhan, with the minister heard saying: “They must touch me . . .”
MPs on Parliament’s powers and privileges committee agreed that an independent advocate from the Cape Bar be appointed to adjudicate the matter.