Vukile Dlwati11 July 2023 | 9:57

VUKILE DLWATI: The institutionalised deceit entrenched in SA’s legal system

The VIP protection unit tale is one that requires the watchful eyes of South Africa, in light of credible witnesses being suffocated in courts of law, cases being struck off the roll, and dockets disappearing, writes Vukile Dlwati.

VUKILE DLWATI: The institutionalised deceit entrenched in SA’s legal system

Members of the South African Police Service's VIP protection unit appear in court for the assault of civilians in Jonannesburg. Picture: Eyewitness News

The police are still investigating the matter.

The case is struck off the roll due to a lack of evidence.

These are some of the common utterances synonymous with the way that justice is carried out in South Africa.

I have seen many a criminal case protracted for years on end with no justice. Some say justice is for those with deep pockets. But this is not my point.

Just over a week ago, a video that has since gone viral depicted armed VIP protection unit police officers attached to Deputy President Paul Mashatile brutally assaulting three civilians on Johannesburg’s N1 highway in Fourways.

We know that the Independent Investigative Police Directorate (Ipid) is investigating a criminal case to get to the bottom of the matter. It also emerged that the eight men from the VIP protection unit were suspended from the South African Police Service (Saps).

“All eight police officers that were involved in the N1 assault have been suspended in terms of the South African Police Service [Saps] disciplinary regulations. Saps wishes not to discuss the matter further in the public domain,” spokesperson Athlenda Mathe confirmed.

This is a common tactic by the police to prevent us from digging deeper to fathom the nature of the case. It reeks of secrecy, while it’s veiled in hypocrisy.

We all saw the video, and those VIP protection thugs should be held to account.

Now you suspend bullies who are captured assailing innocent civilians who were rightfully making use of South Africa’s road infrastructure. Comprehending the glaring abuse of power in the footage ad nauseam is exhausting.

I can’t recall the number of times I watched the video capturing the brutality. By now, one would think that criminal charges would have been instituted against the VIP protection unit tormentors.

One of the victims of the widespread assault saga is a member of the South African National Defence Force (SANDF), and his lawyer has revealed that he has “suffered a lot of emotional trauma”. Moreover, the SANDF has not provided him with counselling, and barred him from speaking to the media, his lawyer revealed.

The SANDF’s supposed stance on the matter has left me crestfallen and my blood curdling.

Criminality must be proven beyond reasonable doubt. This is clear. You're not guilty until proven so by a court of law. Acts of criminality have been committed but the legal framework, as stated above, must be adhered to.

Credible witnesses are suffocated in courts of law, cases are struck off the roll, and dockets disappear.

Money can also change hands in a bid to diminish justice, and it appears to be easy. I've heard one too many times that justice is the custodian of those with heavy pockets. They can pay their way to impunity. This is but a little window through which we view this country's disappointing legal system.

I'm no legal fundi, but my expertise is guided by Section 16 of the Constitution. I am closely watching the progress and outcome of Ipid’s probe into the matter. It seems Ipid doesn’t have the teeth to properly carry out its mandate.

The Institute for Security Studies has also come out to bemoan Ipid’s performance, noting it had low success rates and mechanisms that bore no fruit.

Should Ipid take up the matter with the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), a gateway to potential justice might be opened.

But the NPA is infamous for its snail’s pace approach to justice, and throwing cases out owing to a lack of evidence. It’s also delt a blow by the public’s loss of confidence in it.

The VIP protection unit tale requires the watchful eyes of South Africa.

I am watching this space closely because there is a case to answer to.