EFF MP in hot water for allegedly threatening Phumzile Van Damme

Former DA MP Phumzile Van Damme was allegedly threatened by the EFF's Nazier Paulsen during a parliamentary sitting in March. File photo.
Former DA MP Phumzile Van Damme was allegedly threatened by the EFF's Nazier Paulsen during a parliamentary sitting in March. File photo.
Image: Esa Alexander/Sunday Times

EFF MP Nazier Paulsen is in hot water after he allegedly threatened former DA spokesperson Phumzile Van Damme during a parliamentary sitting in March.

Parliament's powers and privileges committee, which deals with misconduct of MPs, decided on Thursday to accept legal advice that Paulsen had a case to answer for the incident.

Paulsen was kicked out of the house after he got into a verbal argument with Van Damme, a former DA MP. 

He allegedly threatened her with violence, told her to go back to Swaziland and told DA chief whip Natasha Mazzone to go back to Italy.

Van Damme was also kicked out of the house by deputy speaker Lechesa Tsenoli when  she continued arguing with EFF members after the incident. 

During Thursday's heated powers and privileges meeting, EFF MP Mbuyiseni Ndlozi tried to defend his colleague but ended up being ejected from the meeting for unruly behaviour after several warnings by chairperson Philly Mapulane.

Parliamentary legal adviser Thiloshini Gangen told the committee that legal advice sought by parliament confirmed that a disciplinary hearing could be held against Paulsen to determine if he was in contempt of parliament.

The committee accepted the legal advice, resolved to hold a formal inquiry against Paulsen and further added a charge for insulting Tsenoli.

DA MP Haniff Hoosen was the first to support a formal inquiry, saying there was clear evidence of an altercation.

“Having read the advice from the legal adviser, who seemed to have looked at much more information, there was one matter that came to my attention in that document where it relates to when that altercation occurred, the deputy speaker at the time commented and  said this is what happens when irrationality prevails over the house,” said Hoosen.

“To which honourable Paulsen then responded, 'this is what happens when older people sit in the chair'. Now chairperson, on that very comment itself, I do think that should also be probed during the further injury and disciplinary hearing that needs to be held.”

He said the comments were a direct insult to Tsenoli.

DA MP Annelie Lotriet, deputy chief whip Doris Dlakude and ANC MP Violet Siwela supported the recommendation to charge Paulsen.

Ndlozi was the only member to protest against it, saying he was already punished by being kicked out of the sitting in March. 

He said the committee should instead look at the behaviour of Mazzone and Kevin Mileham who also got involved in the rumpus but were not kicked out on the day.

In a heated exchange, Ndlozi further accused Mazzone of laying a complaint against Paulsen because of white privilege and accused other members of the committee of fearing white people.

“On the basis of what we have, should we charge Paulsen or not? And I am saying we shouldn't. Why? The evidence is clear, the deputy speaker already dealt with the matter,” said Ndlozi.

He said MPs were wrong to conclude they should charge Paulsen when Mazzone and Mileham were taken to task for the incident. When Dlakude spoke, explaining the disciplinary process, Ndlozi interjected, saying her submission was a “very, very dumb submission” and unfortunate. 

He was later kicked out of the meeting.