Johannesburg – Civil groups and a number of South Africans are calling for the eight VIP police who are attached to Deputy President Paul Mashatile’s security detail to be unmasked.
Today, the eight N1 assault suspects are making their second appearance. They are expected to apply for bail at the Randburg Magistrate’s Court.
On Monday, all eight wore face masks and jackets that helped them hide their faces, fearing to be identified. However, civil rights groups are calling for the court to unmask them.
Action Society South Africa’s Ian Cameron said the suspects should be unmasked.
“The blue-light Mafia cops are appearing; I think they should be unmasked. We have already seen most of their faces on the video where they committed their crimes,” said Cameron.
Amid the incident, Action Society made ‘wanted’ posters where they released the faces of some of the protectors.
Cameron said the suspects should not be granted bail; the group has for quite some time been calling for a total ban on “blue lights”.
Twitter user Robert Graham also concurred with Cameron.
“I totally agree. Are these ‘brave’ bullies now too afraid to show their faces?” said Graham.
The suspects were part of a motorcade transporting Mashatile earlier this month; they were captured on camera assaulting three civilians on the N1 highway near Fourways, north of Joburg.
The video, which went viral on social media, brought sharp focus to the “blue-light brigade” in the country.
One of the suspects, Shadrack Kojoana, told the court on Monday that they took their orders from the “commander,” who was travelling in the convoy with them.
He also denied that they had assaulted anyone in a Polo that had been driving too close to them.
Other suspects are Johannes Mampuru, Pomso Mofokeng, Harmans Ramokhonami, Phineas Boshielo, Churchill Mkhize, Lesibana Rambau, and Moses Tshidada.
They face 12 charges, including assault, malicious damage to property, discharging a firearm, contravening the Road Traffic Act, reckless and negligent driving, and attempting to defeat the ends of justice.
The Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (Outa) questioned the statement made by Kojoana, who claimed that the Polo was posing a threat to number 2 (Mashatile).
“The VIP Protection Unit thugs claiming the VW Polo was posing a threat to number 2 (who was or wasn’t in the motorcade, depending on who asked) should really just answer one question: ‘If the VW Polo posed such a threat, why didn’t you just arrest the occupants?’” said Outa.
On Sunday, they turned themselves in at the Sandton police station after police watchdog Ipid formally charged them.
On Monday, magistrate Hleziphi Mkhasibe heard the matter, and they were reminded that they spent two nights in custody.
State advocate Elize Le Roux, reading an affidavit from the investigating officer, said that three of four people attached to the military who were off duty on the day of the assault and driving in a Polo were assaulted.
The driver of the Polo, upon seeing a black car behind him, thought they were being hijacked.
The affidavit read that the driver feared being hijacked and continued driving as he witnessed the car behind him and someone brandishing a firearm.
He also remembered being boxed in by two cars. One man banged the glass with a firearm, but he did not succeed. He then went to the back of the car, and the rear window shattered.
The court also heard that “Mr Koen”, who had shared the video, had received death threats and filed a charge of intimidation.
He is one of the state witnesses who will testify when the trial starts.
The court also heard that damages to the car amounted to about R95 000, and the owners, in fear of their lives, were considering de-registering it.
Le Roux said the accused failed to report the matter to their commander, and they had complete disregard for the laws of the country.
She said accused number five had twisted the facts and claimed that the victims were drunk and tried to flee the scene.