Manana no flight risk‚ that's why he was not arrested immediately: Mbalula

10 August 2017 - 16:36 By Bianca Capazorio
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Deputy higher education minister Mduduzi Manana. File photo.
Deputy higher education minister Mduduzi Manana. File photo.

The SAPS wanted to first put together a watertight case against deputy higher education minister Mduduzi Manana before arresting him following allegations of assaulting a female patron at a popular Johannesburg nightspot at the weekend.

This is according to police minister Fikile Mbalula‚ who on Thursday dismissed public concern that Manana was enjoying special treatment because of his government position.

This after the police failed to arrest him immediately on Monday after assault allegations against him first surfaced on Sunday night with the charges laid the next day.

Mbalula also said the police did not immediately lock up Manana because they knew he was not a flight risk and could not hide from the law.

Addressing the media in Parliament‚ Mbalula said the assault was the work of a "clan of men who joined to exchange masculine punches with a woman" outside an establishment which was "well outside of" its legal liquor trading hours.

And despite Manana being allowed to hand himself over to police rather than being arrested‚ and being ushered into court through a back door for his first court appearance‚ Mbalula insisted the deputy minister‚ whom he referred to on a first name basis would not be treated "with kid gloves".

Mbalula said he had asked police why Manana had not been arrested when news broke earlier this week about the assault‚ and had been told they were collecting witness statements.

"There was never a reason to rush the matter‚ the police were being thorough and ensuring the law is taking its course‚" he said.

Manana issued a media statement on Monday admitting to the assault. A second report of an assault in Ermelo in July - also after a night in a bar - later also emerged.

Mbalula said arrest was "not a form of punishment" and Manana was not a man "caught in the moment who needs to be restrained and arrested" and as a known person "cannot hide and is not a flight risk".

Questioned about the apparent special treatment in court‚ Mbalula said: "I wouldn't know about that. At the end of the day‚ he must appear in court‚ whether he goes through a front door or a back door."

But Mbalula admitted that if he were to be receiving special attention because he was well known‚ it would not be the first time this has happened with public figures.

"The law must take its course and the investigators‚ the prosecutors‚ must do their job. I do agree with the rest of society and I'm not going to stop our people when they raise eyebrows about a well known figure with the possibility that individual could be treated with special treatment. In our society‚ indeed such things do happen and they have happened before."

Mbalula said part of the investigation would focus on whether Manana‚ who enjoys 24-hour VIP protection from the police‚ had been accompanied by his protectors at the time of the incident.

"The police that guard him are the police that report directly to me‚" he said.

He said "all those who were there" would be asked to make statements.

"This case is very disappointing because we expect individuals like him (Manana) to act as ambassadors in the protection of women‚" he said.

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