G4S had sent a letter to chairperson of the National Assembly committee on justice and correctional services, Bulelani Magwanishe on Monday explaining their reasons for not attending.
G4S’s lawyer explains why the company did not appear before the Parliamentary portfolio committee
In the letter, G4S regional commercial director for Africa Cobus Groenewoud said they would like to attend the meeting, but were prevented by their contract with the department of correctional services from doing so.
But it can be released from this obligation through Parliament’s system of summoning parties to attend meetings.
“G4SCS SA is bound by statutory confidentiality obligations (Correctional Services Act, 1998) and contractual confidentiality obligations. In order to enable G4SCS SA to fully and properly engage with the Portfolio Committee, it would need to be afforded the same protections which ordinarily would apply to those attending parliamentary committees, such as those stipulated under section 16 of the Powers, Privileges and Immunities of Parliament and Provincial Legislature Act, 2004 (the Privileges and Immunities Act). In terms of Section 14 of the Privileges and Immunities Act, G4SCS SA therefore respectfully requests that the committee summons G4S, in particular the author of this letter and Messrs Joseph Monyate and Gert Beyleveld, to attend a Portfolio Committee after the Easter recess in order to allow G4S sufficient time to prepare,” wrote Groenewoud.
But parliamentarians said they could not be told by G4S when to hold meetings with them.
Some wanted the company to appear in Parliament on Wednesday.
Deputy Minister of Correctional Services Patekile Holomisa suggested the meeting should continue with his department, the police and the judicial inspectorate of prisons in the G4S’s absence.
He wanted to know what prejudice would be suffered by the committee if the meeting went ahead without G4S.
But MPs had none of it and said they did not want G4S to get the benefit of hearing the content of their meeting before they appeared.
Vusi Khoza of the EFF said he agreed with fellow lawmakers that G4S must appear first before other stakeholders make their own presentations to the committee.
“I agree with colleagues that to proceed with the presentations will be putting the cart before the horse and it will create a problem for us,” said Khoza.