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U-turn — ID parade set for VIP protection unit assault case involving Mashatile’s aides

U-turn — ID parade set for VIP protection unit assault case involving Mashatile’s aides
Seven of the eight VIP members attached to Deputy Mashatile’s protection unit appear before Randburg Magistrate Court on 27 September, 2023. (Photo: Michelle Banda)

In a surprising reversal, the state has announced it will conduct an identification parade in the case of eight VIP protection unit members accused of assaulting motorists on a Gauteng highway. 

The state has reversed its stance and is now set to conduct an identification parade (ID parade) in the case involving eight VIP members attached to Deputy President Paul Mashatile’s protection unit. These individuals stand accused of assaulting motorists on a Gauteng highway. The ID parade is scheduled for 18 October.

This decision marks a significant shift from the state’s initial position, which argued against conducting the parade, citing concerns that the assaulted men feared for their safety and that it might intimidate state witnesses.

Randburg Magistrate Hlengiwe Mkhabisi, during previous court appearances, had raised the alarm about the complainants’ inability to identify the roles of the accused. This lack of identification was a crucial element of the accused’s arguments in their successful bid for bail, which was granted on 1 August.

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

The case revolves around a widely circulated video that captured eight VIP members from Mashatile’s protection unit assaulting confirmed military trainees on the N1 highway in Johannesburg in July 2023.

Deputy President Paul Mashatile. (Photo by Gallo Images/Fani Mahuntsi)

Following their release on bail, the case briefly reappeared before the Randburg Magistrate Court on Wednesday. This appearance was prompted by the state’s perceived weak case, a point emphasised by Magistrate Mkhabisi. 

The court had set the next hearing date for 27 September, granting the state additional time to gather evidence, including securing the testimony of the individual who recorded the footage and tracing the source of threatening messages received by security expert Anton Koen, who widely disseminated the video.

However, on Wednesday, the court announced that the case would be further postponed, this time until 9 November, 2023.

State prosecutor Elize Le Roux informed the court that the postponement was requested to conclude ongoing investigations, collect pending statements, and conduct the ID parade.

Simultaneously, the accused also requested a postponement to facilitate a change in legal representation. The previous counsel for accused 1 and 5 to 8 withdrew from the case, and now, all the accused will be represented by a single lawyer.

National Prosecuting Authority Spokesperson Phindi Mjonondwane, speaking to the media after court proceedings, stated, “There is a prima facie case against all accused before the court, hence we enrolled the matter. This is after the prosecutor established that there are prospects of a successful prosecution. So ours now is a prosecution will be to place all relevant evidence before the court, and the court will decide in terms of the strength of the case”.

Read more in Daily Maverick: Magistrate blasts State’s ‘weak’ case, grants bail to Mashatile’s VIP Protection Unit officers

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.

They face a range of charges, including 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.

Despite the latest developments, the accused remain out on bail as the case continues to evolve. DM

Timeline of events:

  • 2 July 2023, around 4 pm — Assault incident happens on N1 between Johannesburg and Pretoria and is reported by VIP unit members to convoy leader Lieutenant-Colonel Shange. It is registered at 11.45 pm the same day, with some of the details omitted from the report, particularly the assault.
  • 3 July 2023, evening — Video of the assault captured by a witness who wants to remain anonymous goes viral after being shared by Anton Philipus Jacobus Koen on Facebook.
  • 4 July 2023 — The Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid) and SAPS begin investigation to track down the VIP unit in the video and the victims. Mashatile’s office confirms members of his protection unit were involved.
  • 5 July 2023 — SA National Defence Union confirms that the victims are SANDF members and one is a member of the union. SAPS confirms that a case against the officers attached to Mashatile’s security unit has been opened. Ipid conducts interviews with the victims and SAPS members.
  • 5 July 2023 – Koen receives a threatening message on his cellphone via SMS, which reads as follows: “Good day Mr Koen, we do not take kind (sic) to the footage that you supplied the media. You have made a lot of enemies in specialised units. We will deal with you…”
  • 10 July 2023 – The officers are placed on suspension with full pay.
  • 23 July 2023 – The officers hand themselves over to Ipid.
  • 24 July 2023 – The officers make their first appearance in court for a bail application.
  • 26 July 2023 – The officers make a second appearance in court to continue their bail application.
  • 27 July 2023 – The case is postponed to 1 August 2023.
  • 1 August 2023 – The officers are granted R10,000 bail and the matter postponed until 27 September 2023.
  • 27 September – matter postponed to 9 November 2023.
Gallery

Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Graeme J says:

    Our criminal justice system is truly screwed if it takes so long for a prima facie case to be concluded by the court.

  • Pierre Rossouw says:

    Legal decisions like these indicate total, complete corruption; nit from bottom up but from top down. Neither law enforcement not prosecutions authority nor political force have any effect for control over criminal actions by state agencies. Is there no accountability whatsoever?

  • mjhauptstellenbosch says:

    You cannot blame the VIP-protection-members,
    as they were following orders.

    You should charge the people who gave the orders
    to assault the victims.

    • Middle aged Mike says:

      I hope you’re not being serious. That’s the Nuremberg defense. Obeying an order to act unlawfully is unlawful, not to mention morally indefensible.

      • Richard Robinson says:

        Perfectly said; Nuremburg Principle IV –

        “The fact that a person acted pursuant to order of his Government or of a superior does not relieve him from responsibility under international law, provided a moral choice was in fact possible to him.”

  • Mike vd Walt says:

    Why on earth are they allowed to mask up like the criminals they are during court proceedings? What a joke!!!!

  • Sydney Kaye says:

    Another example of a too precious legal system. The first set of lawyers probably withdrew because they didn’t want to be part to a fraud, since everybody involved, including the officers in the VIP unit, must know who the perportrators are.
    No doubt their new lawyer will insist they are masked for the ID parade!!

  • Fanie Rajesh Ngabiso says:

    What? They don’t know who it was? HA HA HA HA

  • Charmaine Manicom says:

    “‘I’ll just have a quick squiz at the video again before I go in.”

  • Charmaine Manicom says:

    ”I’ll just have a quick squiz at the video again before I go in”

  • Fuad XXX says:

    Unbelievable! VIP protectors? Not only are they BULLIES but COWARDS as well. Firstly, why are they allowed to hide their identities, secondly are the video not clear enough? Now where is the 1st citizen’s take or did he not take an oath to uphold the constitution or will it show the ANC for what it really is?

  • Richard Robinson says:

    These thuggish neanderthals are a disgrace to our country and the good police officers.

    They are no better than the Nazi SS’s (Schutzstaffel [German: “Protective Echelon”]) Leibstandarte unit, which started off as Adolf Hitler’s personal bodyguard unit and went on to commit war atrocities, the SS itself being the overseeing body that planned and executed the murder of millions of people in the concentration camps.

  • William Dryden says:

    We can all see where this matter is going, hopefully they can trace where the WhatsApp threat came from and charge the culprit accordingly, but I’m not going to hold my breath,

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