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Deputy Speaker abruptly ends Western Cape legislature sitting after heckling and interruptions

Deputy Speaker abruptly ends Western Cape legislature sitting after heckling and interruptions
From left: The ANC's Andile Lili. (Photo: Gallo Images / Nardus Engelbrecht) | The Western Cape provincial parliament's Deputy Speaker, Beverley Schäfer. (Photo: Twitter) | Western Cape MEC Reagan Allen. (Photo: Gallo Images / Die Burger / Jaco Marais)

A Western Cape provincial parliament session on crime in the metro and rural areas was constantly disrupted by comments, to the extent that Deputy Speaker Beverley Schäfer abruptly ended the day’s sitting.

There was an early adjournment of the Western Cape provincial parliament on Thursday, sparked by a heated debate on crime-fighting costs and interventions, a long-standing point of contention between the two biggest parties. 

The disruptions started during an interpellation (mini debate) brought by a question posed to the MEC for police oversight and community safety, Reagan Allen, about the recorded crime statistics for the first quarter of 2022, when there was a 7.3% increase in crimes. 

Read more in Daily Maverick: “Ninety killed in Western Cape mass shootings over three months

Allen responded to a question by Melusi Kama of the ANC by saying the increase was “because of national government’s failure to combat crime”, which was met with heckles. 

Allen said South Africa was 20 years behind in the fight against crime as “a result of national government”. He repeated the call of his party, the DA, for the devolution of policing powers to provinces. He said it made “sense” that “decisions [about the SA Police] are not made 1,500km away”. 

Kama interjected that devolution was “just a DA campaign that has long been coming”.  

Shaun August (Good party) said it was sad to hear politicking when “children’s fathers are being murdered, women [are] being raped”. The former Pollsmoor prison warder challenged Allen to go with him to his former workplace so they could see how young people were languishing in prison. 

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 ‘ANC failed us’ 

Ferlon Christians (African Christian Democratic Party) said the “ANC has failed us” and called for the devolution of policing powers and for the ANC to be voted out of power. This sparked heckling by several members of the ANC, including Andile Lili. At one point, Deputy Speaker Beverley Schäfer, who was presiding over the interpellation, asked Lili to stand up in order to address him. 

“This is embarrassing,” she said and pointed to the chamber’s gallery, where a group of learners from the Breede Valley School of Skills were present following an invitation from Speaker Masizole Mnqasela. 

The sitting was then adjourned for 10 minutes. 

When the sitting resumed, Allen tried to respond to Kama during comments about crime from an ANC branch but this led to more heckling. August said the comments from the ANC branch were irrelevant and urged Allen to respond to the questions. 

The sitting then moved on to another interpellation by August, over the costs of support to rural communities. However, the heckling, interjections and points of order continued. 

Schäfer called legislators to order, but she kept getting interrupted. At one point, she called several people, including Lili, to order, but was ignored.  

Lili was heard saying that Schäfer had disrespected him and he questioned when she would apologise to him. This became an issue and Schäfer adjourned the session after constant heckling and interruptions. 

Afterwards, in a video address, Lili said: “I felt humiliated by the Deputy Speaker.”  He claimed that Schäfer, “when it comes to the other side — the party she belongs to — she would treat them with respect”.

DA Deputy Chief Whip Deidré Baartman said: “The Deputy Speaker initially suspended the House twice due to member Lili’s disruptive behaviour, in terms of Rule 50 of the Standing Rules, before ultimately having no choice but to adjourn the House, before the conclusion of its business, in terms of Rule 21 of the Standing Rules.” She added that the party condemned “blatant attempts by member Lili to descend the House into chaos”. 

The ANC also released a statement. Caucus leader Cameron Dugmore, in a video posted to the party’s social media channels, said that the caucus had not been adjourned for the day. 

Dugmore said: “The decision by the Deputy Speaker to order ANC member, the Hon Andile Lili, from the House, was an incorrect one and part of her bias and racism. Member Lili was simply defending himself against the disrespect and constant berating by Beverley Schäfer. 

“He was chased out of the House for simply demanding an apology from the Speaker after the ANC Deputy Chief Whip correctly pointed out that the rulings of the Speaker were not consistent with the rules.” DM


Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • The ANC is such a mess , ego and petty politics ahead of important decisions at any cost

  • Kato van Niekerk says:

    Members of the Western Cape legislature should focus on the substance of the many urgent and serious issues before them and stop preening and prancing to put their silly, childish egos on display while wasting tax payers money and playing petty politics. They should grow up and get on with what really matters. They are fiddling while Rome is burning.

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