"Reports today [Sunday] make it clear that there are spurious ‘security threats’ on which the Minister of Police Fikile Mbalula is relying to justify this protection. Indeed, it is clear that she was receiving VIP protection prior to her arrival at the hotel where the supposed ‘threat’ occurred," DA spokesman Zakhele Mbhele said.
The fact that Mbalula would not come out and make clear the true basis of these supposed threats made the DA increasingly concerned that there was an abuse of state resources at play, he said. Dlamini-Zuma, President Jacob Zuma's ex-wife, was a firm contender in the succession race for the ANC presidency.
"It cannot be that between now and December [when the ANC's elective conference takes place] she will be provided VIP protection at taxpayer expense, essentially as preferential treatment in an internal party race."
There were vital policing resource issues around South Africa which needed attention. South African citizens faced threats from criminals in their homes and on the streets on a daily basis and yet a Zuma favourite was provided protection for unsubstantiated threats instead of the people.
"The public protector needs to investigate this as a matter of urgency to ensure that any abuse of state resources is stopped," Mbhele said.
Earlier, the Sunday Times reported that government was using an alleged robbery attempt near a boutique hotel in Houghton, Johannesburg to justify providing taxpayer-funded protection for Dlamini-Zuma. Yet neither the manager of the 10 2nd Avenue hotel nor a security guard on the premises knew anything about the incident.
This was despite the fact that there were said to be as many as six armed assailants involved, the newspaper reported.
As head of the African Union Commission Dlamini-Zuma was entitled to a security detail equivalent to that of a president.
But that was supposed to have expired on March 31, as she had vacated the position. Dlamini-Zuma no longer qualified for any state-funded protection.
Police insiders said the apparent attack in Johannesburg was the reason she needed to be “protected by the state”.
However, the Sunday Times said it "can also reveal that Dlamini-Zuma arrived at the hotel with presidential protection unit personnel already in tow on the day of the alleged attack".
There were also several conflicting versions of the incident, the newspaper reported.