/ 26 July 2023

Member of Paul Mashatile’s protection unit says state’s assault case against him is weak

Paul Mashatile
Deputy President Paul Mashatile. Photo: (Morapedi Mashashe/Getty Images & Christopher)

The eight members of the police protection and security services unit who were part of Deputy President Paul Mashatile’s detail accused of assaulting three military trainees on a Johannesburg highway have applied for bail at the Randburg magistrate’s court.

One of the men, warrant officer Phineas Molefo Boshielo, argued through his lawyer that the state’s case against him is “weak” and indicated that he will plead not guilty to the charges against him. 

Boshielo and his seven co-accused — Shadrack Molekatlane Kojoana, Johannes Matome Mampuru, Pomso Joseph Mofokeng, Harmans Madumetja Ramokhonami, Churchill Mpakamaseni Mkhize, Lesibana Aggrie Rambau and Moses Fhatuwani Tshidada — face 12 charges, including assault, malicious damage to property, discharging a firearm, reckless driving, intimidation and defeating the ends of justice.

Another charge of defeating the ends of justice emanates from the police officers’ failure to report the assault

The state says Boshielo not only failed to report the incident, but “twisted” the facts by saying that the complainants in the case were drunk and tried to flee the scene. 

Boshielo upheld during his bail application that the state was under pressure to prosecute the group because of media interest in the matter. He said he expected the state to withdraw all charges against him due to a lack of evidence.

Boshielo and his co-accused requested to be released on R1 000 bail pending finalisation of the investigation into the incident. The eight suspended officers handed themselves in to the police in Sandton on Sunday afternoon. 

Their arrest followed an investigation by the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid) after a video captured by a passing motorist went viral on social media and showed officers beating up three men on the N1 near Fourways. 

According to the state’s affidavit, the person who captured the incident on video  anonymously sent it to a Mr Koen who in turn shared it on Facebook and with senior police officials. 

On the same day Mr Koen shared the video clip, he received a message threatening him: 

“Good day Mr Koen, we do not take kind to the footage that you supplied to the media. You made a lot of enemies in specialised units. We will deal with you …”

Subsequent to the threat, Koen, who is now a state witness, opened a case of intimidation at the Benoni police station. 

During the bail proceedings, the accused maintained they were not aware of the threatening message sent to Koen. They submitted that should they be released on bail, they have no intention of approaching any of the victims. 

The magistrate postponed the matter to Thursday for the state to respond to the bail applications.