DA seeks ‘blue light’ assault probe

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iol news pic Siphosezwe Masango INDEPENDENT NEWSPAPERS File picture of Mpumalanga human settlements MEC Siphosezwe Masango. Picture: Herbert Matimba

Mpumalanga - The DA has called for a probe into allegations that a Mpumalanga man was assaulted by bodyguards of the province's housing MEC.

“(Mpumalanga) Premier David Mabuza must investigate the allegations against Human Settlements MEC Siphosezwe Masango and his 'blue light bully',” Democratic Alliance MPL Anthony Benadie said in a statement on Monday.

The DA also advised the premier to relieve the MEC of his duties.

“The premier (should) suspend Masango from all official duties until the SAPS have concluded their investigation, and depending on the outcome thereof to release MEC Masango from duty,” said Benadie.

The man who was allegedly assaulted, Gert van der Merwe, 38, told Beeld newspaper that Masango's white Mercedes-Benz with flashing blue lights sped past cars waiting to pass through a tollgate on Thursday morning.

“The car passed oncoming traffic at high speed crossing over a solid line,” he told the newspaper.

Van der Merwe apparently stopped behind Masango at the tollgate and shouted that the driver was reckless. He said Masango's car stopped when the boom closed in front of his car.

“When I wanted to pay, I saw the driver and another man get out of the car. They walked to my car and shouted: 'What is your problem?',” Van der Merwe told the newspaper.

One of the guards had a pistol in his hand and the other had pepper spray.

Van der Merwe said he got out of his car to confront the pair, at which time a third person, believed to be Masango, also got out of the vehicle.

Van der Merwe was allegedly hit on the head and pepper-sprayed.

He reportedly ran towards the Kaapmuiden police station, about 400 metres from the tollgate. The bodyguards ran after him.

Beeld published a picture of Van der Merwe running with two men behind him.

Incidents involving blue light brigades have made headlines in the past year.

A bodyguard for KwaZulu-Natal's former social development MEC Meshack Radebe was found guilty of illegally discharging his firearm and his colleague was found guilty of negligent driving earlier this month.

The bodyguard shot the tyre of a Mazda near Camperdown, resulting in the driver losing control and colliding head-on with a bakkie. Eight people were injured in the accident in 2008.

The driver of Gauteng local government MEC Humphrey Mmemezi's VIP vehicle allegedly knocked West Rand teenager Thomas Ferreira off his motorbike.

The November 2011 accident left Ferreira comatose, brain-damaged and in need of long-term rehabilitation.

The DA said it has abolished the use of blue lights for MECs and cabinet members in the Western Cape and had called on Mabuza to do the same in his province. - Sapa


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