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Peter Marais expelled for a day from WC legislature after no apology for ‘foreigners’ remark

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A defiant refusal by Freedom Front Plus MPL Peter Marais to withdraw his comment that black Africans are “foreigners” in the Western Cape, saw him expelled from the legislature, where fellow MPLs were debating the second reading of the Appropriation Bill.

FF+ MPL Peter Marais. File picture: Brendan Magaar, African News Agency (ANA)

CAPE TOWN – A defiant refusal by Freedom Front Plus MPL Peter Marais to withdraw his comment that black Africans are “foreigners” in the Western Cape, saw him expelled from the legislature, where fellow MPLs were debating the second reading of the Appropriation Bill.

Speaker Daylin Mitchell expelled Marais from the chamber for the day on Monday after Marais disagreed with a ruling that he should take back his comment and apologise for making it.

Marais made the comment during a March 9 sitting of the House, when he referred to ANC MPLs as “foreigners”.

Mitchell said: “I regard the reference to South Africans of a particular ethnic group as foreigners in their own country as highly offensive, unparliamentary and in bad taste. This kind of stereotyping of people will not be tolerated under my watch and exceeds the boundaries of free speech in no small measure.”

However, when Mitchell called on Marais – who was in the chamber – to withdraw and apologise, Marais rose and began to address the House, forcing Mitchell to call him to order while telling him he would not allow any discussion on the matter.

Mitchell: “I asked you to withdraw those statements.”

Marais: “I’m not withdrawing. I’m stating a historic fact. I can prove it.”

Mitchell: “Honourable Marais, I have ruled. You leave me with no other option but to ask you to leave the chamber.”

Marais: “I will leave it with joy.”

Western Cape provincial legislature Speaker Daylin Mitchell. Picture: Armand Hough, African News Agency (ANA)

Speaking after he left the chamber, Marais said he never intended to insult black people per se.

“I referred to the different black tribes in terms of who is not indigenous to the Western Cape.

“They expect me to say the water is not dry. Then I’m saying okay, if you are not a foreigner, I will then say you are not indigenous, you’re not first nation, because it is the same thing,” he said.

Marais said if anything, the ANC and the DA should apologise to the Griqua, the Khoi, the Namas and the Korana for referring to them as “coloureds”.

In a statement outside the chamber, ANC chief whip Pat Lekker, who raised the complaint against Marais in the first place, said the party had been vindicated by the ruling. She said the ANC would still pursue legal action against Marais.

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