An MP who insulted and allegedly threatened to assault a female colleague during a parliamentary sitting could face disciplinary action within his own party, the office of the chief whip of the ruling African National Congress (ANC) said on Friday.
“The behavior of ANC MP Mervyn Dirks was despicable and not in keeping with the image of Parliament and the organisation he represents, the African National Congress,” Jackson Mthembu’s office said in a statement.
Dirks is alleged to have attacked fellow ANC MP Thozama Mantashe.
While the presiding officer did not see the incident and said he could not act, Dirks was eventually booted from the chamber after showing his middle finger to opposition party members.
The member is also accused of calling other MPs “dogs” on his Facebook account.
Mthembu wrote a letter to the speaker asking for a probe into the incident.
“If found to be true, these actions cannot go unpunished,” the statement said.
The chief whip had also written to the secretary-general of the ANC to ask that disciplinary action be brought against Dirks for “gross misconduct and bringing the organisation into disrepute”.
“It is very regrettable that while observing 16 Days of Activism Against Women and Child Abuse, a male member of parliament would threaten to assault a female member in Parliament.”
Dirks’ behaviour came two days after he and a group of other ANC members tried to scupper a debate into state capture. The evening before this sitting, this same group of ruling party MPs had accused Mthembu of siding with the opposition and being part of a “pro-white monopoly capital” faction within the ANC, something even the deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa had called ill-discipline on the part of the MPs.