/ 16 August 2023

Mashatile was in VIP convoy, but not at scene of assault, says Cele

Bheki Cele
Police Minister Bheki Cele. (Michele Spatari/AFP)

Deputy President Paul Mashatile was part of the convoy but “not on the crime scene” when members of his security detail allegedly assaulted three military trainees on the side of the N1 highway last month, Police Minister Bheki Cele said on Wednesday. 

Eight officers from the police’s protection and security services unit — who were part of Mashatile’s security — face charges including assault, malicious damage to property, discharging a firearm, reckless driving, intimidation and defeating the ends of justice over the July incident.

“The DP was in the convoy but was not [at] the crime scene where I think two of his cars pulled off to deal with that matter,” Cele told parliament’s police portfolio committee on Wednesday. 

The South African Police Service and the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid) appeared before the committee to give feedback about the ongoing investigation into the assault, which was captured on video.

Cele told parliament that the deputy president only became aware that two of his vehicles had pulled off when the convoy arrived at his home. 

“He did not know until he was told later or saw later that the incident [had] happened,” said Cele. 

Ipid opened an investigation against the eight police officers after a video captured by a passing motorist went viral on social media and showed the security detail beating up three men on the N1 near Fourways. 

All eight officers have been suspended — with pay — and were granted R10 000 bail each after they handed themselves over to police in Sandton at the end of last month. The matter was postponed to 27 September for the finalisation of the investigation into the incident. 

MPs Zandile Majozi, Abednigo Khoza and Ockert Terblanche pressed the police and Ipid to confirm whether Mashatile was in the convoy at the time of the incident, after contradictory remarks surfaced in court. 

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”.

One of the officers, Shadrack Molekatlane Kojoana, submitted to court that the officers’  behaviour was justified because they were carrying out their duty of protecting the deputy president.

On Wednesday, Cele explained that the convoy consisted of seven vehicles. Six were police vehicles while one was a South African National Defence Force vehicle that is “usually…a medical kind of car”. 
Cele reiterated his previous stance that the matter remained sub judice and questions of why the vehicles had pulled over, and the officers behaved in the manner they did, would be answered in court.