Chumane Maxwele: Courting an apology

The jogger who was allegedly bundled into a car, hooded and interrogated by President Jacob Zuma’s bodyguards in February last year has yet to receive an apology from the police ministry, despite a ruling by the South African Human Rights Commission that he should get one.

Last month the commission ordered that Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa apologise to Chumane Maxwele on behalf of the protection unit that detained Maxwele for 24 hours.

The 26-year-old University of Cape Town student was taken in for allegedly pointing a middle finger at the presidential cavalcade as it sped past him in Cape Town while he was out jogging.

The commission ordered Mthethwa to apologise within 30 days of receiving its ruling, which was handed down on July 7.

Maxwele’s legal team plans to approach the high court in an attempt to obtain an order compelling the ministry to comply with the commission’s ruling, Maxwele told the Mail & Guardian this week.

“There is no other way for us. This is a matter of principle and we have to take action,” said Maxwele, who is also pursuing a civil claim against the police.

The commission ruled that the unit’s members had violated Maxwele’s constitutional rights to human dignity, freedom and security, privacy, freedom of expression, peaceful or unarmed demonstration and political choice. It also found that the police had infringed on his rights as a detained person.

The order to apologise was accompanied by a recommendation that the South African Police Service takes steps to ensure that its members—especially those in the protection unit—act in accordance with the law and the Constitution.

But police spokesperson Zweli Mnisi said Mthethwa had advised the commission that he would not apologise while the civil claim against the police and the minister was pending. “Although the minister has the utmost respect for the Human Rights Commission, he also has to respect due process and the courts,” Mnisi told the M&G.

“It was Mr Maxwele himself who decided to use the court process and therefore he cannot now complain because it was not the minister who decided this matter should be decided by the courts.”

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