Hlongwa demands fair treatment
ANC chief whip in the Gauteng legislature and former MEC for health, Brian Hlongwa, has spoken out about allegations against him, demanding to have his day in court.
Yesterday, Hlongwa stood before the legislature for the first time to speak about the allegations of corruption against him and the years which he had suffered as a result of this.
"I am a citizen of this country. No one is above the law. I am not above the law. Like any other citizen, I demand justice. I demand fairness. [To] those who are responsible for dealing with issues of justice and investigation in this country. like any other citizen, I will want an opportunity to clear my name.
"However, madam speaker, it would seem that justice does not matter. Up until today, there is not even a single charge that has been brought against Brian Hlongwa. I have been tried [and been] proven guilty in the court of public opinion," an emotional Hlongwa said.
As he continued to speak, EFF members on the legislature fumed, demanding that speaker Ntombi Mekgwe stop him immediately. EFF provincial leader Mandisa Mashego lashed out at Mekgwe for allowing Hlongwa to speak about his issues in the house.
"This guy is not supposed to speak. Why do you allow him to speak? This is not a court. He can't come here and tell us about charges. The SIU (Special Investigating Unit) released a report with a case number," Mashego said, before Mekgwe turned off her microphone.
Hlongwa and 11 other officials were allegedly implicated in irregular expenditure at the Gauteng department of health between 2006 and 2010.
A report by the SIU, recently made public by civil society organisations, revealed how Hlongwa allegedly received kickbacks, luxury trips and other benefits during his tenure. The findings, which include recommendations to pursue criminal charges, were handed to former president Jacob Zuma last year but no action was taken.
After a lot of shouting and hurling abuse in the house, Mekgwe allowed Hlongwa to continue with his speech, saying members of the legislature were protected by the rules.
Hlongwa detailed the troubles he had gone through since the investigations against him made headlines.
"I am a member of this house and I represent the ANC. It is my party that will make a decision whether I am deserving to represent the party [or not]. The point I am making is that this is not just about me.
"... If there is any evidence that Brian Hlongwa has stolen R1.2-billion, what am I doing here? Where is the evidence to prove that case.
"As for me, I am not just going to fall because somebody says so.
"There is no word or sword that will be formed against me that will prosper. It has reached a point where my family, my children are abused," he said.
In June, Hlongwa survived a motion of no confidence in the legislature calling for him to resign within 72 hours.
The ANC voted against the motion, brought by the DA and the EFF.
Last month, Hlongwa was re-elected to the ANC's provincial executive committee, a move that received a lot of criticism from opposition parties and civil society.