South Africa

BLUE LIGHT BULLIES

Mashatile’s VIP protection unit members in highway assault case must remove masks – magistrate

Mashatile’s VIP protection unit members in highway assault case must remove masks – magistrate
Eight VIP Protection Members appear at Randburg Magistrate's Court on July 24, 2023 in Randburg, South Africa. It is reported that the suspects are facing charging of pointing a firearm, assault and malicious damage to property. (Photo by Gallo Images/Papi Morake)

It’s been more than three weeks since members of Deputy President Paul Mashatile’s VIP protection unit were captured on video punching and kicking the four occupants of a car. While the officers’ bail application continues, questions remain over Mashatile’s whereabouts during the incident.

On Wednesday, the eight VIP protection unit members from Deputy President Paul Mashatile’s security team who are accused of assaulting four men on a Joburg highway appeared in the Randburg Magistrates’ Court for the second time this week to continue their bail applications.

The accused have argued that none of the four victims has positively identified them and magistrate Hlengiwe Mkhabisi expressed concern that the complainants had not identified the roles of the accused, indicating that an identification parade had not been conducted.

On Wednesday, Mkhabisi said that when the accused return on Thursday, 27 July, the matter of identifying who is who in the video will be dealt with first. This means the accused will have to take off the masks they’ve been wearing throughout the hearings, although members of the news media will not be allowed in the courtroom at the time.

The eight SAPS members were part of the security team that allegedly forced a Polo Vivo off a Joburg highway on 2 July and then smashed the back windscreen of the car before assaulting the occupants, four military trainees.

The eight accused are Shadrack Molekatlane Kojana, Johannes Matome Mampuru, Posmo Joseph Mofokeng, Harmans Madumetja Ramokhonami, Phineas Molefo Boshielo, Churchill Mpakamaseni Mkhize, Lesiba Aggrie Ramabu and Moses Fhatuwani Tshidada.

They face charges of pointing a firearm, malicious damage to property, reckless and negligent driving, assault with the intent to do grievous bodily harm, attempt to defeat the administration of justice and assault by way of threats.

On Monday, Kojana told the court that when the incident happened they were in a convoy of close to nine cars. 

“We stopped the Polo Vivo car because it came approaching from the back at a fast pace manoeuvring in between the convoy which is responsible for the Deputy President’s protection,” he said.

“We boxed the car or tried to move it to the side of the road so it wouldn’t get anywhere close to the car with South Africa’s second [most] important citizen. And it had seemed suspicious, so there was a voice communication from the radio that said, ‘Check the blue Polo Vivo.’”

Kojana claimed the officers tried to calm the situation, but the occupants, who reportedly believed that they were being hijacked, had retaliated.

Commenting on the sidelines of the proceedings, Ian Cameron from Action Society, which has tried to assist the victims, said, “None of the Blue Light Mafia members should be allowed bail. They are a danger to society, should be held [to] a higher standard as cops, and an example should be made of them.”

The Deputy President

The court case has raised new questions about where the Deputy President was at the time of the alleged attack. Initial reports after the release of the video widely stated that Mashatile was not in the convoy of cars.

But Kojana on Monday said the VIP protection unit officers, who were on their way to Waterfall Estate, where Mashatile lives, were acting to protect SA’s “second [most] important citizen”.

Asked whether Mashatile should step aside because of the incident, ANC Secretary-General Fikile Mbalula this week said Mashatile was in the convoy but the party’s step-aside rule didn’t apply. The rule calls on leaders to remove themselves from leadership positions if they’ve been criminally charged.

“He was in the convoy. So where does ‘step aside’ come in there? There is no ‘step aside’ there. What we said, as the ANC, is that this matter must be investigated by [the police watchdog] Ipid. It’s been investigated. That has been undertaken.”

Mashatile’s spokesperson, Vukani Mde, suggested Mashatile was in the convoy of cars on the highway but was not present when the alleged assault took place.

Mde told Daily Maverick that the Deputy President (DP) “was not in the cars involved in that incident. That is to say, he was not at the scene of the alleged crime (which is where the likes of the DA and other opportunists want to place him).

“Nothing has changed in that regard. All that’s changed is that the first witness has said the DP was being transported by the convoy (something that was never denied) and the entire media is behaving like it’s new info because, I suppose, you have to have news to report. 

“But nothing’s changed from what I said earlier this month and none of the facts [has] changed. Nothing that man said contradicted anything previously said by the office.”

Mde emphasised that even if Mashatile was in one of the vehicles involved, meaning there could be a perceived risk, it would in no way have justified what happened. 

The bail application continues on Thursday. DM

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Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Agf Agf says:

    I’m not sure what the law says but I believe accused, when appearing in court, should not be allowed to wear masks and hoodies.

  • Richard Bryant says:

    I would call Mashatile as a witness. If he was in the convey, then he would be able to verify whether the polo posed a threat In such a large convey, his car wouldn’t have been in the front so he would have seen everything that happened.

    Afterwards he labelled the incident as ‘unfortunate’ which is how politicians describe things if it’s not their own heads being kicked in.

    But let’s see if he has any backbone. Get him in the witness box. Let’s see if he is just like his boss who always says a lot but says nothing.

  • David Amato says:

    Definitely not the 2nd most important citizen of South Africa.

  • Johan Buys says:

    Do our cops wear body cameras like one sees in US? That would shorten the trial.

  • Andrew Denton says:

    All accused, once in court, should not be able to conceal their identity. For their own and public benefit. The bigger is is simply this, are policemen allowed to assault the public in the course of their duties?

  • Jennifer Hughes says:

    And yet, let’s all please remember, that it continues to be illegal to drag people out of their cars, deliberately damage their property, and beat them up. Even if you are protecting someone important (whatever). Even if these people were behaving erratically (just as us citizens do, insisting on using our roads). Unfortunately, our laws do appear to give the blue light brigades some extraordinary allowances, but assault and battery, lashing out because you’re in a temper, and threatening ordinary non-important people are not, in fact, included in these allowances.

  • Fanie Rajesh Ngabiso says:

    “The accused have argued that none of the four victims has positively identified them”

    What?

    1. The vehicle is identified;
    2. there is no denial that they are members of the VIP Protection unit.

    Their own internal processes should identify them without any doubt.

    Or do Paul Mashatile and his aides not know who are in his protection vehicles 😀

    What a farce of a defense.

  • Ian Gwilt says:

    They were that much of a threat , that after beating them up they were left on the side of the road.
    No Arrest, No investigating, just a big Klapp for being there.

  • William Dryden says:

    I wouldn’t call Mashatile to testify as he is a stranger to the truth.

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