Senior ANC MP Ben Turok confirmed on Sunday that he had been assigned bodyguards after a man claimed he was asked to kill parliamentarians probing misconduct allegations against fired communications minister Dina Pule.
“The head of parliament’s security came to see me and told me about the threats. We were in the middle of the hearings,” said Turok, who co-chairs the legislature’s ethics committee. “It is a pretty miserable affair.”
Turok said he only became aware of the full extent of the threats when the Sunday Times contacted him this week. The newspaper asked for comment on claims made by a man that Pule’s companion, Phosane Mngqibisa, had asked him to assassinate Turok and parliament’s registrar of members’ interests Fazela Mahomed.
Turok said further claims of intimidation had emerged since a nine-member panel, headed by himself, found Pule guilty of misconduct. She failed to declare that Mngqibisa had benefited materially from the sponsorship of the ICT Indaba, which her department hosted.
“Three witnesses have been intimidated. I know one is a senior official in the department who says that she has been harassed,” he said.
The ethics panel found Pule wilfully misled parliament about her relationship with Mngqibisa. It recommended that the breach of rules should be further investigated by the police and prosecuting authorities.
Police minister Nathi Mthethwa’s spokesman, Zweli Mnisi, confirmed on Sunday that the police department had been asked to follow up claims by a man who said Mnqibisa had asked him to kill ethics panel members.
Turok said he remained under the protection of bodyguards, and it was up to the police to decide for how long this was necessary.
The ANC chief whip’s office expressed “serious concern” about the threats. It commended parliament for putting the appropriate security measures in place, spokesman Moloto Mothapo said in a statement.
“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,” he said in a statement. — Sapa
- See also: Turok threatened during Pule probe