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09 Jan 2009 16:21
The Democratic Alliance (DA) has urged the Directorate of Special Operations (DSO) to probe a claim that portions of a South African Broadcasting Corporation video tape—seized by officers of the president’s VIP protection unit—were deleted.
“If true, this action suggests that officers in the VIP protection unit deliberately tampered with evidence which might have been used against them in a court of law—possibly under the instruction or supervision of senior officers,” DA spokesperson Dianne Kohler-Barnard said.
This claim, together with the accusation that VIP unit officers tore up parts of a reporter’s notebook, ‘constituted a flagrant violation of journalistic freedoms, warranting an urgent investigation at the highest level”, she added.
“The DSO continues to have both the capacity and mandate to deal with matters of a serious nature such as this, and the DA believes that in light of this concerning new development, a DSO investigation is needed in addition to the pending enquiry by the Independent Complaints Directorate—an investigation which the DA also instigated.”
The DA also called on the South African Police Service to assist the DSO with any subsequent enquiries, and, in particular, to clarify their own account of last Saturday’s incident, after admitting on Thursday that portions of their initial statement were “not factually accurate”.
“It is simply ridiculous for the police service to admit to a mistake, but then refuse to explain just what mistake was made,” she said.
The police also needed to clarify whether a member of the public was shot or assaulted by members of the protection unit, and if so, under what circumstances this occurred, she said.
“Ordinary road users were understandably distressed by the notion of being pulled over and shot at for driving too close to a motorcade.
“If there are extenuating circumstances in this case, this needs to be made clear.
“Otherwise, criminal charges need to be brought against the officers in question and urgent steps taken to rectify how officers in the VIP protection unit behave and are monitored.
“The police further needs to clarify whether officers tampered with the SABC’s footage in any way.
“If this is the case, it had to be ascertained whether senior officers were involved or in any way aware of it,” Kohler-Barnard said.—Sapa
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