VIP Protection rumours possible attempt to create political expediency, says ANC KZN
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Cape Town - The ANC in KwaZulu-Natal said it hoped the speculation relating to the removal of police protection at the Royal Palace was not an attempt to drive a wedge between the ANC-led government and the Royal House for “political expediency”.
Zulu Traditional Prime Minister, Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi, expressed concern for the safety of the newly named king of the Zulu nation Misuzulu kaZwelithini after claims that the SAPS started withdrawing its VIP protection.
The new king is the son of the late King Goodwill Zwelithini and the recently deceased Zulu regent Queen Mantfombi Dlamini-Zulu, the sister of King Mswati III.
Following his selection on Friday, the new king had been facing threats and he had to be whisked away to safety by armed security personnel.
In a statement, Buthelezi said SAPS security was not provided on the basis of status, but on the basis of a threat assessment. “It seems perfectly clear that His Majesty the King would be placed in a vulnerable position if security were to be withdrawn at this point.
“Despite the clear and present danger this poses, I am informed that the brigadier in charge of the SAPS protectors stationed at the Palace, has confirmed to advocate Mshololo, who is also present at the Palace, that they have been instructed to withdraw (protection). Both the Zulu Royal Family and the Swati Royal Family are shocked by this sudden development,” he said.
But on Sunday, the office of the national police commissioner confirmed that security services had not been withdrawn. National police spokesperson Brigadier Vishnu Naidoo said: “Contrary to recent reports circulating in the mainstream and social media platforms, protection for the Royal Family in KwaZulu-Natal has not been withdrawn.
“It is rather unfortunate that information of such protection being withdrawn was made public without the SAPS leadership being approached for verification.”
Echoing Naidoo’s statement, KZN Premier Sihle Zikalala dismissed allegations that police protection had been withdrawn.
Zikalala verified that protection had not been withdrawn in talks with KZN police commissioner Lieutenant-General Nhlanhla Mkhwanazi, MEC for Transport, Community Safety and Liaison Peggy Nkonyeni, and Police Minister Bheki Cele.
“Following these engagements, we hereby reject these allegations as baseless and misleading. All Royal Palaces are under the protection of the SAPS and this will continue. The Royal Protection Services are at the palace as we speak.
“In fact, there has even been a re-enforcement of security at all the palaces with the Tactical Response Unit (TRT). There will never be any effort to weaken security at the Royal Palaces of His Majesty the King.
“As the government has always done, we shall, at all times, take the responsibility of ensuring the safety and protection of the palaces and their inhabitants, especially His Majesty, the King,” said Zikalala.
ANC KZN provincial secretary Mdumiseni Ntuli appealed to Buthelezi to verify information before issuing security- related statements to the public.
“The ANC is extremely concerned and deeply troubled by the suspected motive of whoever had advised Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi about the alleged withdrawal of the protection services to His Majesty, the King Misizulu kaZwelithini.
“We hope and sincerely trust that the intended agenda is not to create a schism between the ANC-led government and the Royal House or His Majesty the King for political expediency.”
Ntuli added that it was important to ensure that formal communication to society was grounded in facts rather than perception or incomplete information.
Buthelezi responded yesterday saying he was surprised by the ‘knee-jerk reaction of the ANC in KwaZulu-Natal’ to his statement. “They have accused me of acting without information, and even suggest a political agenda. This is an extraordinary accusation, creating a political confrontation where none existed.”
He said he made his statement based on information he received on the imminent withdrawal of SAPS VIP Protectors from an Advocate of the High Court who has been staying at KwaKhangelamankengane Royal Palace since before the passing of Her Majesty the Regent. “The Advocate was conveying information received directly from the Brigadier in Charge of security at the Palace. There is no reason for the Brigadier in Charge to have misinformed us, and indeed, the Provincial Commissioner has not denied issuing this instruction.”
He said he could not understand how the ANC in KwaZulu-Natal could turn the issue into a political matter, ‘accusing me of informing the nation before “checking the facts”; despite having no facts themselves – which they have now called on the Provincial Commissioner to provide’. “I take strong exception to the accusations being made by the ANC in KwaZulu-Natal that the performance of my duties is done with the intention to create a rift between the Royal Family and the ruling Party.”
He said they appreciated the Premier’s assurances today, made through the media, that security will be maintained at all the Royal Palaces. “The Royal Family is relieved to read that previous instructions appear to have been reversed. Ultimately, the safety and well-being of His Majesty the King rests on this commitment,” Buthelezi said.