The victims of the recent blue light assault incident on the N1 are believed to be all members of the South African Armed Forces.
Members of adj. pres. Paul Mashatile’s protection unit was involved in the incident that took place this past weekend on the N1 highway in Gauteng. It can be seen in the video of the incident how officers from the police’s VIP protection services pluck three occupants from a Volkswagen Polo along the highway before these men are repeatedly kicked. The police officers then jump back into their BMW X5 vehicles and drive away.
Adv. Pikkie Greeff, secretary of the army trade union Sandu, said they were able to make contact with the victims and that one of the victims is a member of Sandu.
“The victims were on their way from Johannesburg to Pretoria when the black SUV appeared next to them and one of the occupants pointed a firearm at them. The victims’ vehicle was surrounded by more SUVs and forced to a stop along the N1 highway.”
According to Greeff, the officers apparently attempted to break the victims’ vehicle’s front and rear windows before the assault. According to Greeff, the independent police investigation directorate (Opod) has already interviewed the victims.
Incident widely condemned
A video of the incident was shared on social media and has since sparked an uproar. Numerous parties and organizations strongly condemned the incident.
Mashatile’s office earlier confirmed that the police officers involved in the incident were members of his presidential protection unit. It is unclear whether the deputy president was in the vehicle when the incident occurred.
The Automobile Association (AA) said the incident raised renewed concerns about the threat posed by the police’s VIP unit to motorists.
ActionSA said the party was not going to allow the deputy president to get away with being a “Mafia-style leader who rules by force”.
Dr. Pieter Groenewald, leader of the FF Plus, said the police officers’ behavior raises questions about the training and professionalism of the officers.
The police officers should be summarily arrested and locked up, the DA said in response to the incident.
Ian Cameron, director of community safety at Action Society, said the incident was a “blatant shame” and a slap in the face to good police officers who are trying to do their job.
The civil rights organization AfriForum demanded an urgent investigation into the incident and said there had already been numerous cases of bullying behavior by these officers.
“No one is above the law and the police must act quickly to ensure that these bullies are reminded of that.”