'I'm not the only victimised whistleblower' - Zelda Holtzman

Dismissed PPS head says she will be challenging findings and sanctions of hearing

'I'm not the only victimised whistleblower' - Holtzman to challenge Parliament dismissal

12 October 2017

Cape Town - Parliament's dismissed security head Zelda Holtzman, who believes she has been targeted for lifting the lid on irregularities, plans to legally challenge its decision to sack her over what she has described as "trumped up" charges.

And she will push for answers about suspicious incidents linked to the matter - a stolen disciplinary record as well as critical information to defend herself which she says was deleted from her laptop.

On Wednesday, Parliament announced that it notified Holtzman of her dismissal, which immediately came into effect.

Holtzman, who was the Parliamentary Protection Services (PPS) boss and who previously expressed her disagreement with police officers being recruited in the unit, on Thursday told News24 she would not simply accept this.

'Victimised for whistle blowing'

"I certainly will be challenging their findings and sanctions as a matter of principle," she said.

"I believe the charges [I faced] were trumped up to get me out… I'm not the only one who has been victimised as a result of whistle blowing."

She was seeking legal advice on how to proceed.

Holtzman believes she was fired from Parliament for reasons including to quash an investigation into the alleged illegal use of blue lights which she had called for.

On Wednesday it was announced that Parliament decided to dismiss her following a report from Takalani Madima, the independent chairperson of a disciplinary inquiry into her.

"The recommended sanctions of dismissal related to Ms Holtzman’s refusal to provide written responses and a report to her manager, in terms of a lawful instruction for her to do so," Parliament spokesperson Moloto Mothapo said.

"This amounted not only to gross insubordination but also a breakdown in the pivotal workplace relationship of trust between an employee and employer."

Dismissal was also recommended as Holtzman, according to Mothapo, had failed to produce a business plan in support of Parliament's strategic plan and had failed to submit an annual budget.

"A final written warning was recommended for failing to take steps to address divisions in the Parliamentary Protection Services [PPS], including between herself and her deputy," Mothapo said.

Protracted dispute

Holtzman has been locked in a labour battle with Parliament since 2015.

She and her deputy Motlatsi Mokgatla were reportedly suspended from their positions in 2015 after objecting to recruitment processes in Parliament's protection services - they had been against the inclusion of police officers in the PPS.

Holtzman laid charges with the Hawks against Parliament for allegedly breaking its own rules during an investigation into her deputy and herself, but lost a case at the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA).

'Quashed illegal blue light probe'

On Thursday she told News24 she believed the charges she faced had been purposefully trumped up "to put a lid on my call for an investigation into the unlawful use of blue lights by Secretary to Parliament Gengezi Mgidlana".

She questioned why the unlawful use of blue lights was being allowed in Parliament.

In 2015, Holtzman lodged a complaint against Parliament for hiring a private intelligence service to investigate her after she was suspended.

On Thursday she questioned why Parliament, which she said "is supposed to display democratic values", had allowed an intrusive investigation into her by a private intelligence company.

Holtzman said the State Security Agency should have instead been used.

Deleted info and document theft

She said she would also push to find out why information, which she needed to defend herself, was deleted from her laptop.

Holtzman also wanted to find out who was behind a theft of a critical document in the matter.

"Who stole the whole record of the disciplinary from my lawyer's offices?" she asked.

The record was stolen from the chambers of her legal representative Johann Nortje in July.