Thank you, Speaker. Hon members, I would like to make a ruling on a question of privilege which was raised by the hon Chief Whip of the Opposition in terms of Joint Rule 14(l)(a) of the Joint Rules during the state of the nation address in 2015. The Chief Whip of the Opposition asked, and I quote him:
Whether it is appropriate for members of the VIP Protection Unit who are tasked with protecting the executive to be screening Members of Parliament on their way to the House?
I then committed to attend to this matter, which I did. I would like to draw the attention of members to the provisions of section 4 of the Powers, Privileges and Immunities of Parliament and Provincial Legislatures Act 4 of 2004, which states that:
Members of the security services may enter upon or remain in the precincts of Parliament for the purposes of performing any policing function if so permitted and authorised by the Presiding Officers.
The responsibilities of the SA Police Service are also provided for in clause 8.2.3 of the Security Policy of Parliament, where it is stated, among others, that:
They are responsible for the access control system and for the chamber security.
Further, clause 8.5.4 provides for the purposes of their own safety and that of others:
Members will be required to have all their possessions x-rayed or manually searched.
It should be noted that in terms of section 199(1) of the Constitution of South Africa, the security services of the Republic consist of, among other, a single police service which includes the VIP Protection Units.
We further acknowledge that whenever necessary, members of the VIP Protection Unit may be part of the members of the SA Police Service that carry out security functions in Parliament.
It should be noted that the incident that the hon Steenhuisen complained of took place during the state of the nation address where all arms and other organs of the state collaborate. Although the hon Steenhuisen indicated that Members of Parliament were screened by the members of the VIP Protection Unit, he did not complain that they were in any way impeded from performing their functions as Members of Parliament.
Having enquired onto this matter, it was established that some members of the VIP Protection Unit did screen Members of Parliament as part of the SA Police Service duties. Now, in the normal circumstance, this is not the practice. It is only in exceptional circumstances that this approach is taken.
We would however want to encourage members to report to the Presiding Officers any incidents that inhibit them from carrying out their functions of Members of Parliament as a result of any screening done by any of the Protection Services' members in and around Parliament.