BLUE LIGHT BULLIES
IPID to probe vicious assault on motorists by Paul Mashatile’s security unit as rage ignites across SA
The Independent Police Investigative Directorate is investigating the VIP protection unit attached to Deputy President Paul Mashatile after a widely circulated video appears to show members of the unit punching and kicking Joburg motorists and passengers on a Gauteng highway.
The Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid) is investigating allegations of assault against members of SAPS’ Protection and Security Services programme attached to the protection detail of Deputy President Paul Mashatile.
This comes after wide public circulation of a 57-second video allegedly showing armed officers of Mashatile’s protection unit attacking three civilians on what appears to be the N1 highway. The video depicts armed members of the unit — who were driving a black BMW — dragging a civilian to the edge of the highway before punching and kicking him on the ground.
The video, taken by a motorist witnessing the attack, shows another of the civilians, who appears to be lying unconscious on the side of the road.
Hours after the video went viral on social media, Mashatile’s office confirmed that members of his protection unit had allegedly been involved in the incident.
Mashatile was not present at the time of the incident, according to his spokesperson Vukani Mde.
“He was not in any of the cars and even if he was — meaning, therefore, there was ‘risk’ — it would not in any way justify the actions taken,” Mde told Daily Maverick.
The circumstances prior to the assault remain unclear and the victims have not yet been publically identified.
SAPS is currently investigating the circumstances leading to the assault and has since identified the officers and victims, according to Brigadier Athlenda Mathe.
In a statement on Tuesday, Mashatile denounced the unnecessary use of force, particularly against unarmed civilians.
“Members of the SAPS are meant to uphold and protect the fundamental rights of every person and exercise the powers conferred upon them in a responsible and controlled manner,” the statement read.
Read more in Daily Maverick: Paul Mashatile VIP assault highlights police protection an expensive excuse for thuggery and vanity
Commenting on the incident, Outa CEO Wayne Duvenage told Daily Maverick, “The conduct which the country and the world has witnessed in the video clip is obviously very concerning and quite frankly, despicable and unbecoming of people employed in the enforcement arm of our criminal justice system.
“Whatever triggered the incident, this is a display of immaturity and extremely low IQ when it comes to dealing with a situation. I sincerely hope that the authorities will throw the book at these individuals. In addition, I hope the SAPS will assist the victims by supporting them and encouraging them to press charges.
“I also hope that a top law firm will provide pro-bono services to bring both criminal and civil charges against the individuals and the police in this instance. Here I’d suggest that we [the authorities] need to go further, to establish if all the people ‘involved’ in this fiasco, have received professional and requisite training to fulfil these positions. This situation is a symptom of a bigger problem.”
The video has sparked outrage on social media over what is perceived to be SAPS officials’ abuse of power.
Demands for ‘VIP Protection Unit thugs’ to be arrested
DA Shadow Minister of Police Andrew Whitfield said the blue light incident displayed “a shocking abuse of power”.
“It is not enough for these offenders to face internal disciplinary processes within the SAPS. We demand that they be arrested and subjected to the full force of the law.”
Songezo Zibi, leader of Rise Mzansi wrote, “Those VIP Protection Unit thugs behaved in line with the boundaries of behaviour they glean from their principals. In the workplace people behave as well or as badly as the culture of that workplace allows them to. The so-called investigation will be a sham.”
Commenting on the video, health and social security systems specialist Alex van den Heever said, “Note how quickly they left the scene. If there was any legitimate purpose for this action, why did they not remain until the police arrive? Not only was the assault unlawful, but so was fleeing the scene. Surely?”
Meanwhile, SAPS has stated that the officers will be subject to ‘internal processes’. DM