Adj. Pres. Paul Mashatile’s office has confirmed that the police officers who were involved in an assault incident on the N1 are members of his presidential protection unit.
It is unclear whether the deputy president was in the vehicle when members of the police’s VIP protection services allegedly assaulted three motorists on the N1 in Johannesburg last weekend.
Mashatile’s office did not provide any details about the alleged assault in the area of Fourways, but did condemn the incident.
“The deputy president abhors any unnecessary use of force, especially against unarmed civilians.
“Members of the police are supposed to uphold and protect the fundamental rights of every human being and to exercise the powers assigned to them in a responsible and controlled manner.
“The deputy president fully endorses this sentiment,” says his office.
South Africans are outraged after a video of three men being kicked along the highway by members of the police’s VIP Protection Services Unit surfaced on social media on Monday evening.
It can be seen in the video how the police officers 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 X5s and drive away.
Willem Groenewald, CEO of the Automobile Association (AA) says the incident raises renewed concern about the threat that the police VIP unit poses to motorists.
The AA already expressed its deep concern about the so-called blue light brigades early last year.
“They are aggressive towards other motorists and often push them off the road to ensure their convoy has easy passage – often through heavy traffic. We have already noted (last year) that anecdotal evidence suggests that members are shouting at other motorists, pointing their firearms at motorists to intimidate them and generally being combative when on the road.”
Groenewald says repeated calls for proper supervision of the VIP unit’s operations have clearly fallen on deaf ears.
“The unit’s members continue to act with impunity and often view other road users as a threat instead of citizens they must protect and serve.”
ActionSA says Mashatile’s admission that members of his VIP protection service were involved in the incident raises even further questions about the deputy president’s ethical values ”which have left much to be desired in recent times”.
Mashatile has recently been under fire due to allegations that he maintains a luxurious lifestyle, thanks to his ties to businessmen who are believed to have benefited from government contracts.
“His BNP protection unit’s involvement in this horrific assault further damages his good name,” says Herman Mashaba, president of ActionSA.
Mashaba says the party will not allow the deputy president to get away with being a “mafia-style leader who rules by force”.
“We maintain that South Africa is not a mafia state or a police state and no police officer may assault any member of the public, even if they are found guilty of a crime.”