‘They abused their powers’- Mashatile’s VIP protectors granted R10K bail
"It is disheartening that the people we are supposed to depend on, have assumed the role of rogue police officials," magistrate Hlengiwe Mkhabisi said.
Eight VIP Protection Unit members appear at the Randburg Magistrate’s Court. Picture: Michel Bega/The Citizen
The eight South African Police Service (Saps) VIP Protectors of Deputy President Paul Mashatile have been released on R10 000 bail each.
The VIP Protection members made their fourth appearance in the Randburg Magistrates Court on Tuesday.
Shadrack Molekatlane Kojana, Johannes Matome Mampuru, Pomso Joseph Mofokeng, Harmans Madumetja Ramokhonami, Phineas Molefo Boshielo, Churchill Mpakameseni Mkhize, Lesibana Aggrie Rambau, and Moses Fhatuwani Tshidada are facing several charges.
These include traffic infringement, several charges of assault, malicious damage to property and the pointing of a firearm.
In granting bail, magistrate Hlengiwe Mkhabisi said the state has made a weak and frail case and the matter was placed prematurely on the role.
Mkhabisi said there was no evidence that they would try to evade trial because their family ties were in Gauteng.
“I have no doubt if the state conducts a thorough investigation a conviction might ensure at the end. However, with the evidence that has been presented before me, it would be a traverty of justice if I were to refuse the appplicants bail.”
Abuse of power
Mkhabisi said the VIP Protection officers who assaulted civilians on the N1 highway in Johannesburg abused their power.
“The applicants were in a position of power, they abused their powers, 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.
Mkhabisi said the officers should have realised, in the absence of weapons, the complainants did not pose a threat to Mashatile.
“Had the applicants fled the vehicle, thereafter spoke to the occupants like reasonable police officers, and not acted aggresively, they would have discovered that they were mistaken in assuming that the occupants of the vehicle posed any harm to the person they were rendering protection to.”
The matter has been postponed to 27 September for further investigations.
The officers have been behind bars for over a week after they were arrested for being caught on video beating civilians on the side of the N1 highway last month.
The widely-circulated video on social media showed the VIP police officers – brandishing rifles and pistols – jumping out of a BMW X5 and attacking the occupants of a VW Polo.
They drag the passengers out of their car, and began kicking them as they lay on the ground.
Mashatile not at scene
While Mashatile confirmed the incident, he insists he was not on the scene at the time of the assault.
Speaking to JJ Tabane Mashatile said he first saw the incident on social media.
“Protectors must respect the law, must obey the law. They are not a law onto themselves… Now that they’re in court, I don’t want to make many comments about that scene, except to say it is not true that I was there.”