Parliament has provided medical and counselling services to eight Parliamentary Protection Services officials injured while escorting Economic Freedom Fighters MPs out of the chamber during President Jacob Zuma’s state-of-the-nation address (Sona) this week.
“Eight officials of the Parliamentary Protection Services (PPS) injured while escorting some Members of Parliament out of the chamber are receiving medical and counselling services. The officials were beaten with plastic hats, bricks, and punched,” Parliament said in a statement on Friday night.
Secretary to Parliament Gengezi Mgidlana was directed by presiding officers National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete and National Council of Provinces Chairperson Thandi Modise to conduct an investigation.
Mgidlana has established an inter-divisional committee to investigate the various allegations around Thursday night’s events. He was expected to table a report early next week to the presiding officers for a decision on the course of action Parliament would take, the statement said.
“The allegations of brutality levelled at PPS officials are unfair, unfounded, and baseless. Evidence shown on national television stations clearly indicates that these officials were brutally assaulted when they were merely doing their work of removing some Members of Parliament (MPs) as instructed by the presiding officers.”
The PPS officials had successfully carried out their tasks under “difficult conditions” created by some MPs. “Equally so, allegations that the PPS has any weaponry, such as cable ties, injections, or any other equipment, are false,” Parliament said.
On Thursday night, several people were injured when EFF MPs clashed with security forces inside the Assembly chamber and in the hallways of Parliament, where glass shards from shattered windows and artworks were swept up following the fracas.
A member of the PPS was limping after the violent clashes with EFF MPs. Clashes between EFF MPs and PPS officials continued outside. As the violence erupted, Zuma appeared to be laughing; this after the EFF MPs had for an hour prevented him delivering his 10th Sona.
Democratic Alliance chief whip John Steenhuisen rose to challenge Mbete about allowing security forces into Parliament in violation of the law and court orders. Steenhuisen was shouted down from the African National Congress benches as a “racist”, and the DA then left the chamber as well.