Deputy President Paul Mashatile on Tuesday said he has become aware of “an unfortunate incident” in which members of the South African Police Service (SAPS) who are attached to his VIP protection detail were recorded brutally assaulting civilians on the N1 in Johannesburg.
Mashatile’s spokesperson, Vukani Mde said Mashatile “abhors” any unnecessary use of force, particularly against unarmed civilians.
“The national commissioner of the SAPS, General Fannie Masemola, has promised a thorough investigation of the incident and articulated the conduct expected of police officers very well,” said Mde.
In his reaction, Masemola has highlighted that members of the SAPS were meant to uphold and protect the fundamental rights of every person and exercise the powers conferred upon them in a responsible and controlled manner.
Mde said Mashatile “fully endorses” Masemola’s sentiments.
“The deputy president appeals to the public to allow the SAPS the necessary space to complete its investigation into the incident and take whatever corrective action is deemed necessary,” he said.
“The deputy president has full confidence in the SAPS under the leadership of [Police] Minister Bheki Cele and the command of General Masemola to do the right thing in this regard.”
Earlier on Tuesday, the SAPS said the victims of the assault have been identified.
On Monday afternoon, the SAPS issued a statement distancing itself from the conduct and behaviour depicted in the video, saying the behaviour did not align with the values and code of conduct of the SA Police Service adding that they were looking for the victims.
In a statement early on Tuesday morning, the police’s Brigadier Athlenda Mathe said the victims who were travelling in a VW Polo have been successfully traced.
“The process to obtain their statements continues as part of the probe,” said Mathe.
On the other hand, Civil rights group Action Society's director of community safety, Ian Cameron, has reacted angrily to the trending video.
SAPS has confirmed that the bunch of assailants, some brandishing firearms, are indeed police officers.
Cameron said the actions of the police officers were disgusting.
“It is absolutely disgusting to see the behaviour of these thugs. They call themselves police members but they certainly cannot be called that. They are criminals and they should be prosecuted as such,” said Cameron.
“We really hope as Action Society that the victims in this case will go ahead with the necessary criminal procedures and we hope that everything in the State’s power will be done to prosecute them. From our side, as Action Society, we will do everything in our power to try and make sure that they get the worst possible punishment for what they have done.”