12 October 2017

South Africa: Parliament Fires Security Head On 'Trumped Up' Charges

Parliament on Tuesday fired its head of protection services, Zelda Holtzman, on "trumped up" charges following her exposure of the abuse of power by the secretary of Parliament.

Secretary of Parliament Gengezi Mgidlana is on special leave pending an investigation into allegations of mismanagement

Holtzman said the disciplinary process - which found her not guilty in 2016 on 11 of 14 charges - was started with the intention to get rid of her and to avoid dealing "with the real issue at hand, which is the abuse of power, and actually investigating the allegations of unlawful action by the secretary of Parliament".

She was suspended in July 2015, less than a month after she raised questions about Mgidlana using official vehicles and blue lights, as well as instructing members of protection services to drive him and his family around.

Parliament is supposed to be a People's Parliament acting in line with the Constitution. Instead, what I have experienced is the tyranny of an institution which has veered from its intended path.

The chair of the disciplinary committee, Takalani Madima, recommended Holtzman be dismissed after she was found guilty on three charges, including a failure to develop a business plan for her unit and a failure to respond to instructions of a superior, the deputy secretary of Parliament. He labelled this gross insubordination.

"Parliament is supposed to be a People's Parliament acting in line with the Constitution. Instead, through this process, what I have experiencing is the tyranny of an institution which has veered from its intended path," said Holtzman.

"I am saddened because many people sacrificed to create a People's Parliament representative of the whole South Africa and which is an expression of justice and equality. And here I find myself as somebody who did the right thing; who spoke out against abuse of power; who took steps to have allegations of abuse investigated and to prevent it from happening in future and still I find myself dealt with in this high-handed manner by a Parliament who should have instead embraced what I stood for.

"We should not allow institutions we worked very hard to build to be used as instruments against people who are standing for truth and justice," said Holtzman.

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