Mbalula in hot water over tweets

13 December 2017 - 12:43 By Kyle Cowan
Police Minister Fikile Mbalula. File photo.
Police Minister Fikile Mbalula. File photo.

Police Minister Fikile Mbalula seems to have landed himself in hot water over his tweets yet again – this time for tweeting pictures of bags of cash that had allegedly been destined to buy votes at the ANC national elective conference this weekend.

However‚ national police spokesman Brigadier Vish Naidoo told TimesLIVE on Tuesday evening he had yet to make enquiries on the matter and on Wednesday morning Naidoo referred queries to Mbalula’s spokesman‚ Vuyo Mhaga.

Mhaga was also contacted on Tuesday‚ but said he had no knowledge of the incident or the tweets and would make his own enquiries.

Four calls and texts to Mhaga on the matter on Wednesday morning went unanswered‚ while Mbalula himself also did not respond to calls and text messages.

Twitter users were quick to point out that the image Mbalula tweeted was from an arrest in Cape Town last year. Mbalula hit back‚ saying it was purely for “illustration purposes”. But did the minister tweet fake news?

On Tuesday‚ a screenshot was widely circulated on WhatsApp among journalists and editors‚ showing a picture with the same bag of money and two messages that read:

"Mchana we must make sure we give delegates that money by Thursday as instructed by uBaba." "Leadership I will be meeting the coordinators around 15:30 at Birchwood‚ come join us if available."

A screenshot of a fake news message that was doing the rounds on Tuesday, it seems Police Minister Fikile Mbalula based his Tweets on this.
A screenshot of a fake news message that was doing the rounds on Tuesday, it seems Police Minister Fikile Mbalula based his Tweets on this.
Image: Supplied

The screenshot was widely dismissed as being an obvious attempt to dupe the media and others as it was cropped to exclude the date and the names of the two people in the conversation. Mbalula would later Tweet the exact same image with his claim that money had been seized.

In October another of Mbalula’s tweets caused outrage. The minister had posted a picture of several men tied up on the ground next to a tarred road‚ adding that the men had been pounced on in connection with a mass shooting in Cape Town.

Mbalula said multiple units and intelligence operatives had pounced on a vehicle and arrested suspects who were linked to weekend shootings in Marikana in the Western Cape‚ where 11 people were killed.

Mbalula arrived at the scene of the arrests to make his own road-side interrogations. He later posted pictures of the men on Twitter and boasted about the "midnight criminal space shake up" to his one million Twitter followers.

But The Times established - through interviews with six of the "suspects"‚ all of whom have been released without charge - that they are all members of a family transporting a coffin containing a dead relative to his funeral in the Eastern Cape.

The suspects said they were made to lie on the ground for three hours while the police waited for Mbalula to arrive. Now the men are vowing to sue the police for wrongful arrest and humiliation.

The detained men said Mbalula's tweets had put their lives in danger.