Mbalula set to face grilling over wrongful Marikana arrests

17 October 2017 - 06:22 By Neo Goba
Police Minister Fikile Mbalula is photographed near eight men who the SAPS Western Cape suggested were involved in the violence in Marikana informal settlement in Cape Town.
Police Minister Fikile Mbalula is photographed near eight men who the SAPS Western Cape suggested were involved in the violence in Marikana informal settlement in Cape Town.
Image: SAPS Western Cape

Police Minister Fikile Mbalula could be cruising for a bruising with MPs this week following the wrongful arrests of 10 suspects allegedly held for hours with Mbalula boasting about it on social media.

Legal experts who spoke to The Times said "Razzmatazz", as he is otherwise known, contravened the law and his actions were punishable.

DA member of parliament's police portfolio committee Dianne Kohler Barnard said Mbalula was out of order and should pay for violating the suspects' rights - the police cable-tied them and forced them to lie face down at the side of the road for hours.

"I will be raising this with the committee and I believe he should be sued in his personal capacity for that. What crime intelligence is there in stopping a group of people going to a funeral with a coffin?" she asked.

"He is not a police officer and he is not a lawyer [so] for him to pre-determine guilt shows he is just so out of his depth. He is clueless," said Barnard.

The minister bragged on Twitter last week that police in Cape Town had nabbed a number of men on the N1 highway allegedly involved in a gruesome shooting at Marikana informal settlement in Philippi.

But it was later revealed that the 10 suspects were released without being charged.

Wits law professor James Grant said Mbalula had contravened the SA Police Service Act by posting pictures of the suspects before they had appeared in court.

"If it's true that the suspects were made to lie on the road for any extended period of time beyond which was necessary, then that would be a violation of the Criminal Procedure Act.

"If they were made to wait for the minister to take a photo opportunity, then that was unlawful. Furthermore, one may not publicise the identity of the suspects before they make their first court appearance," said Grant.

Legal expert Ulrich Roux said Mbalula could be sued for defaming the suspects without verifying the facts.

"If they suffer reputational or financial hardship or damages as a result of their photos being printed [or otherwise published] they have civil recourse," he said.

Independent Police Investigative Directorate spokesman Moses Dlamini said: "If the suspects want this matter to be dealt with, they should either sue the police or the ministry for mistaken identity."

Mbalula's spokesman Vuyo Mhaga said his boss had done nothing wrong.

"He has not violated any act. Posting that picture is no offence; it's just a standard that the media uses within the police."

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