Johannesburg - Hawks spokesman McIntosh Polela has been suspended three weeks after making a controversial reference to prison rape on Twitter, police said on Thursday.
“He has been suspended. We won't discuss details. It is a purely internal matter,” said Brigadier Phuti Setati.
He referred all Hawks media inquiries to the SA Police Service media centre.
Setati would not comment on a report in Beeld newspaper that Polela's suspension was the direct result of his tweet in October about kwaito star Molemo “Jub Jub” Maarohanye, after he was convicted of murder.
“JubJub spending 1st nite in prison. Bail has been denied after being found guilty of murder, attempted murder & racing while high,” Polela tweeted shortly after judgment was handed down by the Protea Magistrate's Court.
“I trust that JubJub's supporters gave him a jar of Vaseline to take to prison,” Polela posted.
Several users commented on this tweet. One asked: “Really? Rape jokes from the police spokesman?” and another: “Coming from a officer of the court that is low! Scrapping at the bottom of the barrel for comments now are we?”.
Polela later apologised for the remark, also via Twitter: “My tweet about Jub Jub on Tuesday nite (sic) was in poor taste. I profoundly regret posting (it) and hereby retract it. Je suis desole (I'm sorry).”
Shortly after the initial tweets, fast food franchise Nando's ran an advert poking fun at him.
“Next time you're thinking about tweeting, do yourself (and your followers) a favour and come to Nando's instead. Unlike your jokes, our flame-grilled Peri-Peri chicken is always tasteful.”
On Tuesday, a Twitter user asked Polela why he was not commenting on the latest Hawks' raid.
“I'm writing exams from the 19th. At home studying and trying not to care about what's happening in the universe,” he replied.
Maarohanye and Themba Tshabalala were found guilty of four counts of murder, two of attempted murder, using drugs, racing on a public road, and driving under the influence of drugs.
They were drag-racing in Protea North on March 8, 2010 when they crashed into a group of school boys. Prince Mohube, Mlungisi Cwayi, Andile Mthombeni and Phomello Masemola were killed. Frank Mlambo and Fumani Mushwana were seriously injured.
On Wednesday, the High Court in Johannesburg rejected an appeal by Maarohanye against the revoking of his bail.
Sentencing is scheduled to take place on November 30. - Sapa