Anthony Benadie MPL
Provincial Leader – Mpumalanga
Premier David Mabuza must investigate the allegations of assault against human settlements MEC Siphosizwe Masango and his “blue light bully” bodyguards following an altercation at the Nkomazi toll plaza on Thursday.
Media reports today allege that MEC Masango’s convoy travelled eastwards along the N4 at high speed, while recklessly and unlawfully overtaking fellow road users. It was shortly afterward that Mr Gert van der Merwe, after expressing his dissatisfaction with the drivers of MEC Masango’s vehicle, was allegedly assaulted by the MEC’s “blue light bullies”. Van der Merwe has subsequently laid charges of assault at the nearby Kaapmuiden Police Station.
The DA has on previous occasions spoken out against “blue light bullies” and their abuse of power. The use of blue flashing lights and sirens is governed by the National Road Traffic Act and does not so much as suggest that any person using them is granted permission to disregard the safety of other motorists, and should only be used by law enforcement authorities in reacting to emergencies.
Furthermore, VIP protection protocol demands that the principal should be the subject of close protection at all times, and protection measures should only be taken in response to an immediate threat, and not in anticipation of one. Conduct such as leaving the MEC’s vehicle (and leaving the MEC unprotected) is a breach of protocol in itself, and the consequent assault of an unarmed civilian does not constitute an immediate threat to the MEC’s person.
In light of the sensitivity of the matter, the DA calls on premier David Mabuza to suspend MEC Masango from all official duties until the SAPS have concluded their investigation, and depending on the outcome thereof, to release MEC Masango from duty.
The DA also calls on provincial police commissioner Lt Gen Thulani Ntobela to ensure that the case enjoys priority, and that the investigation is conducted 100% free of any interference. The DA also requests for TRAC to release all video footage surrounding the incident, as the quality of published screen grabs suggest that these would be crucial to the investigation.
In the Western Cape, the DA has already banned blue lights for MECs and national cabinet ministers, and the DA calls on premier Mabuza to institute the same in Mpumalanga.