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By Faizel Patel

Senior Digital Journalist


VIP protection unit: Case postponed as video credibility questioned

NPA spokesperson Phindi Mjonondwane said the person who took the video is known to the state.


The case against the eight South African Police Service (Saps) members who were part of the VIP protection unit who assaulted civilians on a highway in Johannesburg has been postponed to 1 August 2023.

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 made their third appearance at the Randburg Magistrate’s Court on Thursday.

Video

In Thursday’s proceedings, defence advocate Mbhoni Mahlaule argued against the admission of the video footage of the assault that has been widely shared on social media, saying it was captured by a civilian who is still unknown.

Mahlaule argued that there are concerns regarding the credibility of the video.

“If the person who shared the video footage is not known, it raises the questions – how was the video footage or the evidence of the video footage generated and how was it stored?”

The matter of identifying which officers were in the video was also dealt with.

“If the court makes an order regarding the unmasking of the accused, it will be based on evidence that is questionable,” Mahlaule said.

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

Bail application

In their argument to be granted bail, the eight men attached to Deputy President Paul Mashatile’s security detail claimed they will suffer prejudice if not released.

The men also said they are not flight risks and are breadwinners for their families.

In granting the postponement, magistrate Hleziphi Mkhasibe said she was providing the two defence attorneys a chance to prepare for a bail hearing.

The VIP officers, who have since been suspended from their jobs, have been ordered to remain in custody until their next appearance.

ALSO READ: Blue light assault: Masked VIP Protection Unit members formally charged in court [WATCH]

Threatening SMS

Meanwhile, the state is opposing bail saying it is premised on the protection of a state witness who allegedly received a threatening SMS. The state alleges the SMS could only have been sent by the officers or someone close to them.

Prosecutor Elise le Roux told the court they need at least a month to investigate who sent the SMS.

NPA collecting evidence

National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) spokesperson Phindi Mjonondwane said they are still collecting evidence.

“Once we are ready for the trial stage, much of the these details will be obtained. We can confirm as the state that we do have evidence in our disposal. It’s made of real evidence, demonstrative and documented evidence.

“Once bail is denied or granted, we’ll than start pushing to conclude our investigations,” Mjonondwane said.

ALSO READ: ‘Traumatised’ VIP Protection Unit accused denies assault in surprise court twist

She also said the identity of the person who took the video is known to the state. 

“The person who took the video will be one of the state witnesses, we are still trying to talk to the person but if we fail there are other ways of laws that will be used,” Mjonondwane said.

Charges

The VIP unit members are facing 12 counts ranging from traffic infringement, several charges of assault, malicious damage to property and the pointing of a firearm.

A widely circulated video on social media showed how the VIP police officers – brandishing rifles and pistols – jumped out of a BMW X5 and attacked the occupants of a VW Polo.

They dragged the passengers out of their car, and began kicking them as they lay on the ground.

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