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Calls to rein in VIP convoys mount as charges filed against Mashatile’s protection unit

Calls to rein in VIP convoys mount as charges filed against Mashatile’s protection unit
A screenshot from the video of the assault of three men by Deputy President Paul Mashatile's protection unit on the N1 in Johannesburg. (Screenshot: Twitter)

The authorities appear to be taking action against members of Deputy President Paul Mashatile’s security unit who were shown on film viciously assaulting three military trainees on the N1. Many questions remain unanswered, but one victim described events leading up to the assault.

It’s been more than two days since the video that appears to show members of Deputy President Paul Mashatile’s security unit punching and kicking Joburg motorists and passengers on the N1 highway was widely circulated. While speculation is rife, facts are sparse.

However, one victim’s account has been revealed by the South African National Defence Union (Sandu).

Sandu national secretary Pikkie Greeff confirmed that the three men filmed being assaulted are SANDF members and one is a member of the union.

Greeff said he had been in touch with one of the victims, who had shared what had transpired leading to the assault:

“The victims were en route to Pretoria from Johannesburg when a black SUV appeared next to their vehicle while one of the occupants in the SUV was pointing a firearm at the victims’ vehicle.

“The victims’ vehicle was subsequently boxed in by more SUVs and forced to the left side of the N1 highway. The occupants of the SUVs exited their vehicles, surrounding the victims’ vehicle and attempted to smash the windscreen of the victims’ vehicle.

“Upon not being successful in that attempt, the assailants proceeded to smash the back window of the victims’ vehicle and assault the occupants of that vehicle.”

 

 

 

Officers charged

While investigations are ongoing, SAPS has confirmed that a case against the officers attached to Mashatile’s security unit has been opened.

According to SAPS spokesperson Athlenda Mathe, the officers face charges of assault with intent to cause grievous bodily harm, pointing a firearm and malicious damage to property.

“The case has been registered at the Sandton police station. Three counts of assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm. We are also investigating a case of pointing a firearm and malicious damage to property,” Mathe said.

“That matter, according to the procedure, has been transferred and escalated to Ipid [the Independent Police Investigative Directorate] and they are responsible for the investigation. It is again their mandate to take the necessary action, which may also lead to arrests of these SAPS members.

“But on our side, we have instituted internal departmental processes that are currently unfolding. We are also at a stage where we have served these members with the notice of suspension.”

Read in Daily Maverick: Ipid to probe vicious assault on motorists by Paul Mashatile’s security unit as rage ignites across SA

Robbie Raburabu, national Ipid spokesperson, told Daily Maverick that Ipid investigators helped the victims to open the case. Raburabu added that the motive for the assault has not been established and that the victims are in the care of their employer, the SANDF.

This comes after Ipid conducted interviews with the victims and SAPS members on Tuesday.

Political pressure

In the meantime, political parties and civil society are calling for swift action to be taken against the members of Mashatile’s security unit.

ANC secretary-general Fikile Mbalula told the media the assault of civilians by Mashatile’s security detail was a serious blight on the police service as a whole. Mbalula further called on Ipid to thoroughly investigate the matter.

“We accordingly urge Ipid to investigate this matter, that the alleged perpetrators of this violence be immediately suspended and ensure consequence management in this regard should they be found to be in the wrong.”

Read more in Daily Maverick: ‘Problem officers’ in Mashatile’s VIP protection unit likely to get away with slap on wrist, say experts

The DA said it was launching a campaign to end police brutality.

“While the DA welcomes the suspension of the VIP officers and the fact that they have been charged with assault among other charges, more still needs to be done,” the party’s Andrew Whitfield said.

He said the party was calling for a ban on blue lights and reckless driving by VIP convoys; the demilitarisation of police as per reports from the Marikana Commission; and increased Ipid independence.

The EFF in Gauteng condemned the assault and urged National Police Commissioner Lieutenant-General Fanie Masemola to ensure the investigations were prompt and that the offenders were arrested. 

“Knowing how toothless the Ipid is when it comes to dealing with such cases, the EFF commits to make a follow-up to guard against victimisation and ensure that justice is served,” the party said.

IFP national parliamentary caucus member for police, Zandile Majozi, said: “The IFP will continue to monitor this situation and calls on the Independent Police Investigative Directorate to speed up the process of getting justice for the victims and holding these officers accountable.”

“Put the VIP protection members involved in the incident in jail!” ActionSA leader Herman Masahaba said.

Build One South Africa leader Mmusi Maimane called for Mashatile to visit the families of the victims and apologise.

Civil society group Action Society has launched a campaign against police brutality with a call to “Ban the #BlueLightMafia”. DM

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Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Derek Jones says:

    If anything should send alarm bells ringing this should. Here is a ruling party at war with its people. Just like Zimbabwe. They think they own the place. Can do anything they like. In fact know it. Because these fat cat politicians like Zuma and Ramaphosa do nothing for the country. Mashatile, another one standing in the wings. They take and steal and revel in theft and abuse. They were and are in a position to do and say what is right and do none of it. You are less than useless. Get out of office and leave the country we don’t want you here at all.

  • Andrew Hulsman says:

    It is reported that ethical leadership reduces the likelihood of arrogance among those in positions of authority. Seems that such leadership is in very short supply.

  • Richard Bryant says:

    The correct response from Ramaphosa (if that is even a remote possibility) would be to suspend the entire VIP system and review what in the system made such a level of brutality even possible and whether having a VIP system, which carries an emblem with striking resemblance to that of the murderous putin Wagner unit, is in fact needed.

    They clearly didn’t learn a thing from the murder of Collins Khoza during lockdown in Alex and may have even intensified their approach knowing they could beat up a person in broad daylight with no consequences.

    But don’t hold your breath and expect anything from Ramaphosa. It’s his way of condoning these things. Say nothing. Do nothing. They know they have your back.

  • Bill Gild says:

    So serious criminal charges have been laid against these thugs.
    I’m willing to bet that these thugs will never see the inside of a courtroom, let along a jail cell.

  • Katharine Ambrose says:

    Mbalula hasn’t got it. This assault is a blight on the ANC. The country sees these vicious thugs as instruments of the party leadership.

  • Rae Earl says:

    These security pigs will probably get the usual punishment as meted out by the ANC, suspension on full pay and benefits for months on end. They’ll sit at home laughing and drinking toasts to their benefactors in the ANC cabinet.

  • William Stucke says:

    Google “Nando’s Blue Light Brigade” for an 8 year old and more light-hearted take on this subject.

    It’s appalling and should be stopped immediately That R2 billion a year can be put to much better use.

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