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By Editorial staff


Mashatile thugs’ bail brings hope – and despair

In no serious case of government corruption has anyone prominent ended up behind bars – yet.

Yesterday’s court judgment handed down by Randburg magistrate Hlengiwe Mkhabisi was both the best and the worst of us as a country.

Deciding on whether to grant bail to eight members of the police VIP Protection Unit – those assigned to Deputy President Paul Mashatile – was never going to be an easy task, given the immense public and media focus on the case.

Yet Mkhabisi showed that, at its best, our judicial system can be one of the pillars of our democracy.

ALSO READ: ‘They abused their powers’- Mashatile’s VIP protectors granted R10K bail

She tore into the eight men in the dock – who still have to plead on charges of assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm, as well as pointing a firearm. They – as captured on video by a passing motorist – had abused their powers as police officers, brutally assaulting innocent motorists, she said.

“They misused police resources in a country wherein our communities are not receiving the proper police service they so deserve.

“It is disheartening that the people we are supposed to depend on, have assumed the role of rogue police officials,” Mkhabisi said.

ALSO READ: VIP Protection Unit members make emotional pleas for bail

Her words were particularly telling because this was an arm of the state – the judiciary – telling another, the government, that this country is still governed by a constitution and that our citizens have rights, including safety of their person.

In that, she was also expressing the feelings of probably the majority of South Africans that our enforcers of law and order should never be above the law themselves.

Not only that, our politicians should not believe that they are some sort of special class; a royal family, as they are in other African banana republic dictatorships – most notably in our northern neighbour, Zimbabwe.

The presidential security personnel there regularly abuse people without ever being brought to court for such behaviour.

ALSO READ: Blue light case: Mashatile ‘didn’t lie’ – Mbalula defends deputy president

At the same time, however, Mkhabisi’s judgment – which granted bail to the eight men – showed that having the best judiciary in the world means nothing if a country lacks the ability or, more importantly, the will to carry out proper prosecutions and bring people to book.

Mkhabisi noted that the prosecution case was “weak and frail” and that the whole matter had been placed on the court roll “prematurely”.

Cases which look, at first glance, to be solid, have either never come to court or have collapsed once before a judge.

The Estina dairy farm case in the Free State – a key component of the state capture web – and the disintegration of the legal attempts to have the Guptas extradited from Dubai, are both cases in point.

ALSO READ: Gauteng MEC Maile orders probe into R37m mansion linked to Mashatile

In no serious case of government corruption has anyone prominent ended up behind bars – yet.

Former president Jacob Zuma continues to taunt our judicial system with his endless delaying tactics. It has now been more than five years since President Cyril Ramaphosa promised that he would end the looting and punish the perpetrators.

That, plainly, has not happened. Nor, at this juncture, does it look like it will happen before hell freezes over.

Therefore, we are left to wonder: is this all deliberate? Is the criminal justice system doing nothing more than creating an illusion that misdeeds have consequences? And is the criminality continuing behind this smokescreen?

ALSO READ: R37m ‘safe house’? Paul Mashatile lives in Waterfall mansion owned by son-in-law

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