Mcebo Dlamini has told his lawyer that private security officials took him to Alexandra police station for questioning in the early hours of Wednesday morning, but the police station and private security at the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits) deny it.
The story echoes Dlamini’s first arrest, where police officers took him from his residence in the early hours of the morning. However, this time there is no record that Dlamini was ever at the police station he says he was taken to.
Dlamini told his lawyer, Thabo Kwinana, that private security took him from his residence room at around 5am on Wednesday morning to Alexandra police station in Johannesburg for questioning. He said that the questions were related to Dlamini’s presence at EFF leader Julius Malema’s court case in Bloemfontein. Malema was charged with violating the Riotous Assemblies Act by inciting his supporters to occupy land. Dlamini attended the case in support of Malema on Monday.
“They said they took him for questioning relating to his attendance of a court case in Bloemfontein,” Kwinana said.
Kwinana said that what he knows was related to him by Dlamini, but Alexandra SAPS and police spokesperson Sally De Beer have both denied that Dlamini was at the Alexandra police station.
“He was not there,” De Beer told the Mail & Guardian.
Officials at the police station checked their record books from Wednesday morning, but there was no mention of Dlamini. They also asked other police officers in the station for information, but no details were found on Dlamini being there. They concluded to the Mail & Guardian that he was never at the police station.
Acting police commissioner Khomotso Phalane later released a statement saying that Dlamini had not been taken to any police station in South Africa. He said the rumours, spread by an SMS Dlamini had sent to SAFM before he was meant to appear on air for an interview, mean that SAPS officers had wasted resources trying to confirm what had happened.
“The South African Police Service would like to place it on record that Mr Mcebo Dlamini was not arrested and/or detained at any police station in Gauteng or in any other province today,” Phalane said in a statement.
“We are already looking into the circumstances of the claims which have been made during the course of the day as it would seem that there has been a deliberate attempt to cast the South African Police Service in a negative light by an individual or individuals who clearly have an agenda. Those who have been economical with the truth should be exposed,” he added.
Similarly, Wits spokesperson Shirona Patel said the dean of students and head of security at the university know nothing about the arrest. Wits University has employed private security on campus since #FeesMustFall protests first began last year.
Kwinana and Dlamini have been unable to identify the private security officials who Dlamini said took him, but Dlamini told Kwinana that he initially believed that they were police.
“We are still investigating,” Kwinana said. “The private security did not identify themselves. He [Dlamini] said they were allowed into the facilities at the Alexandra police station. His conclusion was that they are police.”
The lawyer also said that if Dlamini, an ANC member, was taken for questioning in relation to his presence at Malema’s case, then there appears there may have been a breach of law and they may take action.
“If it was unlawful harassment we will see what appropriate steps to take, but for now we are investigating the identity of the people and what it was they were looking for,” Kwinana said.
He could not, however, confirm that Dlamini had been at the police station. Dlamini had spoken to Kwinana after he was released, which he said was around 10am.
“I did not even know he was in the police station. I am just relating what he told me,” Kwinana told the Mail & Guardian.
The Mail & Guardian attempted to reach Dlamini for comment at the time of publishing, but he was unavailable.