/ 24 July 2023

Members of Mashatile’s protection unit in court over ‘highway assault’

Justice Gavel And Block On Judge's Bench With Blank Plaque
KwaZulu-Natal’s water woes have again led to a delay in justice being served after the sentencing of a South Coast serial rapist, who drove around in his bakkie kidnapping teenage girls at gunpoint, was postponed in the Scottburgh regional court on Thursday

Eight members of the police’s protection and security services unit who were part of deputy president Paul Mashatile’s security detail made their first court appearance in the Randburg magistrate’s court in Johannesburg on Monday for allegedly assaulting three military trainees on the side of the N1 highway earlier this month.

Court proceedings were initially delayed as the magistrate and defence lawyers debated  over whether the media was allowed to reveal the identities of the eight men. The magistrate ruled in favour of the media, saying it was in the public interest to allow court proceedings to be broadcast live.

The eight handed themselves over to police in Sandton on Sunday afternoon. Their arrest followed an investigation by the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid) into a video captured by passing motorists which went viral on social media and showed the officers beating up three men on the N1 near Fourways.

It sparked widespread condemnation from the public, opposition parties and civil rights organisations.  

Seven of the eight accused are reportedly warrant officers and one carries the rank of sergeant in the police. They face charges of assault, malicious damage to property and discharging a firearm. 

The matter was postponed to Wednesday for bail applications. 

The South African National Defence Union confirmed that the victims of the assault are members of the national defence force and one is also a union member. 

Mashatile’s spokesperson, Vukani Mde, told the Mail & Guardian shortly after the incident came to light that the deputy president was not in the vehicle when the assault took place, and that he “condemns the behaviour and finds the video very disturbing”.

The so-called blue-light brigade has, over the years, become notorious for bullying tactics on the roads.