The ANC issued a strong warning against the people involved in death threats said to have been received by members of the Ethics Committee of the South African parliament, Ben Turok and Fazela Mahomed.
It has been reported that Turok and Fazela received death threats related to the case of ANC MP Dina Pule who was removed as the minister of communications by President Jacob Zuma last month.
The former minister of communication, Pule, appeared before the ethics committee which ruled that she had misled parliament.
The Ethics Committee handed down maximum penalty to Pule. The penalty includes public rebuke by the Speaker Max Sisulu, a fine of 30 days’ salary and suspension of privileges and right to a seat in Parliament for 15 days. While the penalty may appear to a slap in the wrist the ruling may lead to other action political and otherwise.
In its statement the ANC said “The African National Congress condemns the death threats against Comrade Ben Turok and as well as the Committee Registrar Fazela Mahomed both of whom represented the Ethics Committee of the South African parliament in an investigation against the former Minister of the Department of Communication and a member of parliament who has since been found guilty of allegations levelled against her. We view these threats in serious light as they are clearly calculated to undermine the authority of the parliament and its functional organs and to paralyses a parliamentary sanctioned process”.
The ANC added that “We call on the police and other law enforcement agencies to investigate this matter and bring to book those who are behind this despicable intention against one of our senior parliamentarians and a veteran of our struggle. This disregard for lawful processes and malicious interference with parliamentary process must not be tolerated so that parliament and parliamentarians can discharge their work and responsibilities without fear or favour. We want to take this opprtunity to commend parliament and the Ethics Committee for having acted decisively to restore the integrity of our parliament”.
Should any of those behind the threats be found to be ANC members, the organisation will not hesitate to take stern action against them as we regard such conduct to be unANC”.
Corruption Watch has issued a statement saying it “calls for the prosecuting authorities to act swiftly and ensure Pule is held accountable for her alleged unlawful conduct”.
The office of the ANC chief whip in parliament also issued a strong statement saying it the threats must be taken seriously.
“We commend Parliament for swiftly putting in place appropriate security measures around the two following these threats. We are also pleased that the police department is seriously looking into the threats. We are confident that those behind these outrageous and repulsive acts will be speedily apprehended and made to face the full wrath of the law”
We don’t take lightly these threats as they are not common by any stretch of the imagination. Both Turok and Mohamed were part of a collective assigned to probe the allegations on behalf of Parliament of the Republic of South Africa. Any threat directed at them cannot simply be taken as a common act of intimidation against them as individuals, but an attack on the institution of Parliament and the people of South Africa.”
It is outrageous that there are criminal elements within our society who think they wield some kind of power to bully such an important institution of our constitutional democracy into submission. The police must leave no stone unturned to ensure that such acts of bullying and thuggery are never repeated against an institution such as Parliament.”
Corruption Watch executive director David Lewis said while welcoming the findings of the Parliamentary Ethics Committee against Pule, criminal charges must be laid against Pule in line with the anticorruption laws.
“It is important to note that Pule is not an ordinary Member of Parliament but held a cabinet post vital to South Africa’s well-being and economic prospects. It is therefore imperative that strong consequences flow from the manner in which she has abused the public resources under her stewardship”.