It was with surprise that AfriForum’s Private Prosecution Unit learnt that the case against Vuyo Mhlakaza-Manamela had in fact been set down for trial today, 18 August 2022. The Gauteng Legislature’s Deputy Speaker faces charges of assault and crimen injuria, for allegedly attacking police VIP protection officer, Sgt. Lizzie Mojapelo.
The matter was postponed, only because the presiding officer was unavailable.
Mojapelo approached AfriForum’s Private Prosecution Unit after the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) chose not to pursue the case. The matter was withdrawn last year after senior prosecutors allegedly told Mojapelo that the matter would be difficult to prosecute because the suspect is a very high-profile person.
The decision not to prosecute Mhlakaza-Manamela was reviewed after the Unit made representations to the Gauteng South Director of Public Prosecutions.
Today, the unit established:
- Mhlakaza-Manamela made her first appearance on the re-enrolled charges on 10 August.
- The prosecutor was first handed the docket on that day, 10 August.
- The matter was set down for trial on 18 August.
The unit will write to the NPA to ask:
Why was the complainant not informed about the first appearance of the accused, nor told that the appearance on 18 August was for the purposes of trial?
In light of the matter being set down for trial, why did the prosecutor not consult with the complainant beforehand?
Why was the matter set down for trial a week after the first appearance when the prosecutor appears woefully unprepared to proceed?
The unit will further enquire why the accused has not been charged with interference in a police officer’s duties, in terms of the South African Police Service Act, because Mojapelo was on duty at the time of the incident.
The unit believes that the sudden urgency to dispense with this matter suggests the NPA continues to act favourably towards accused persons who are politically connected.
The circumstances appear engineered to put the state at a disadvantage. The unit asks — who stands to benefit?
AfriForum’s Private Prosecution Unit will not stand by and watch what appears to be precursors to an injustice, engineered by the very people who are supposed to support victims of crime.
Nevertheless, the unit is pleased that the matter has finally been enrolled and Mojapelo will have an opportunity to tell her story to a magistrate. The Unit will consult extensively with Mojapelo and prepare her for the date she is called to testify.
The matter was postponed to the 22 and 30 September 2022 for trial.
Issued by AfriForum