Ramaphosa keeping Cele has turned SA into a “de facto Police State”

By Chris Steyn

President Cyril Ramaphosa has turned South Africa into a de facto Police State by his refusal to remove Police Minister Bheki Cele from his post.

That is the charge from veteran police- and violence monitor Professor Mary de Haas in an open letter in which she describes the fear and danger in which SAPS whistleblower Patricia Morgan-Mashale and her children have to live.

Titled “ABUSING, NOT PROTECTING, CHILDREN’S RIGHTS : A TALE OF TWO PRESIDENCIES”, she wrote: “The Presidencies of (Nelson) Mandela and Ramaphosa could not be more different, especially when it comes to children. It is President Ramaphosa who bears the responsibility for the abuses suffered by the Mashale children – and others – at the hands of the police because he refuses to remove the Minister who, in running the police operationally himself, is fuelling a lawlessness led by SAPS management,” Professor De Haas writes.

“Our President also turns a blind eye, not only to the plethora of allegations (and cases) of criminality – and his lying under oath at the Inquiry which dismissed him as National Commissioner – against (Bheki) Cele, but he even allows him to run all the police oversight bodies – IPID (Independent Police Investigative Directorate), the Civilian Secretariat, and even, it seems, the Police Committee in Parliament, himself. Ramaphosa has turned us into a de facto police state in which politicians, not civil servants, run our institutions in breach of our Constitution,” the professor adds.

“In the disregards he shows for adequate care of our children, and the abuse of their rights, both by acts of omission as well as commission, Cyril Ramaphosa’s legacy could not be more different to that of Madiba – and history must judge him for the great damage he has done.”

Professor De Haas describes how Mashale – since she was targeted by SAPS management for reporting corruption in Free State management in 2021 – has suffered gross human rights violations,  including attempted murder, the threat of death, and mental and psychological torture. “Worst of all for her is having to be away from her children and meet their needs adequately, due to her unlawful dismissal by the SAPS, and her need to remain in hiding – a combination of house arrest and solitary confinement – with their father now being the only breadwinner.  Worst affected, given his age, is what her now twelve-year old son has had to endure.”

In the latest incident, over the weekend of 2  and 3  December, a man – believed to work undercover for Crime Intelligence (CI) – had kept the Mashale family home under surveillance all weekend before he tried to force his way into the yard of the home while hurling a torrent of obscene abuse at those inside, including the twelve-year-old boy and his pregnant adult sister.

Professor De Haas recalls how when this boy was 10, he had to be removed from the weekly boarding school he attended in Trompsburg, where he was happy and did well, after the family car driven by his sister’s husband was followed from there to Bloemfontein in November 2021 by “unmarked cars carrying police members (who lost interest when they found Patricia was not in the car)”.

The Professor details how from March 2022 the police had made concerted efforts to find out where Mashale was “(after her brother had refused to tell them he narrowly missed being hit when shot at on his way home), and the family home where the children stay with their father has been under constant surveillance by different vehicles, usually with temporary cardboard licenses. In one instance the vehicle was identified as belonging to local Hawks detectives, and a report was made to the Directorate’s head. 

“On Saturday 5 November 2022, after Mashale had gone to their home to spend time with her unwell minor child, the vehicle doing the surveillance – a black double-cab Ford Ranger – pursued the car, driven by her son-in-law, returning her to her hiding place, through Bloemfontein until the driver finally lost them in a maze of township houses and shacks. An identical vehicle was seen last week at the Mangaung police station, registered to CIS in KZN (an identical vehicle has also been keeping another vulnerable local person under surveillance).” 

De Haas recalls a similar incident to that of last week – but without the verbal abuse – in September 2022 when a large group of uniformed, armed police arrived at the Mashale home to effect “a malicious arrest” of George Mashale (the children’s father). “He was not at home and the child called his sisters, who arrived and discovered there was no arrest warrant. Surely he must have wondered why, when his mother and father had served the SAPS with distinction for years, why they were now turning on the family. 

“These, and other abuses of the rights of the minor child, were reported to the SAPS  National Commissioner and the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Police in December 2022. No action whatsoever has followed, except further police abuse in the form of illegal surveillance and serious verbal threat and abuse. There is absolutely no accountability in government, and Parliament is not acting on it.”

In the lastest development, Mashale told BizNews that her one daughter had laid a complaint of harassment and intimidation against the man who came looking for her last weekend and shouted such vile abuse at her children.

“According to the information that I received, Crime Intelligence (CI) watched my house because they believe that I’m not in hiding and that I am staying at my house. My little boy says that he saw the officer taking pictures of the house on several occasions. That’s when he decided to take pictures of the vehicle and also informed his father about the vehicle. His father was with another police officer when they followed the vehicle – and it was that police officer who tested the number plates of the vehicle because he was very concerned that Crime Intelligence were watching the house of a whistleblower whose life is already in danger.”

*Read Professor Mary de Haas’ letter in full below:


ABUSING, NOT PROTECTING, CHILDREN’S RIGHTS : A TALE OF TWO PRESIDENCIES

By Mary de Haas

‘History will judge us by the difference we make in the everyday lives of children’ – (Nelson Mandela)

The way in which a country treats it children speaks volumes about the quality of its governance.  As we celebrate Mandela’s legacy, a decade after his passing, we recall the climate of hope he generated and his special love of children.  Reflecting on his legacy now, hope has turned to near despair, especially – in terms of long-term consequences – about the way South Africa treats its children. Three decades post-liberation we still have pit latrines, education that for many is worse than other African countries who spend less on it than we do, and widespread malnutrition causing physical and mental stunting   No attempt has been made to undo the serious damage done to black African family life by decades of colonialism and apartheid, and those system’s dehumanizing hostel life. Rape, including of young children, is out of control, and condemns many to pregnancy and a life of taking anti-retroviral medicatiion.  That children are not the priority they should be is shown by the generally poor quality of social services and cut-backs in funding to organisations dedicated to assisting abused and traumatized children – while no expense is spared to feed the gluttonous appetites of those in our top-heavy government.  The buck stops with our current President who, through his refusal to replace the present Minister of Police, is complicit in SAPS atrocities (torture and killings) worthy of apartheid, lack of justice for victims of gender-based violence, and even the abuse of children, including those of Patricia Mashale.

Since she was targeted by SAPS management for reporting corruption in Free State management in 2021, Mashale herself has suffered what the TRC, referring to victims of apartheid, termed gross human rights violations, including attempted murder,  the threat of death, and mental and psychological torture.  Worst of all for her is having to be away from her children and meet their needs adequately, due to her unlawful dismissal by the SAPS, and her need to remain in hiding – a combination of house arrest and solitary confinement – with their father now being the only breadwinner.  Worst affected, given his age, is what her now twelve-year old son has had to endure. 

Over the weekend of 2nd and 3rd December, a car with members of Crime Intelligence, who had kept the family home under surveillance all weekend, tried to force their way into the yard of the home, while hurling a torrent of obscene abuse at those inside, including the twelve-year old boy and his pregnant adult sister. Mashale was devastated that, in her absence, the SAPS should violate her children in their own home in this way. From March 2022 the police made concerted efforts to find out where she was (after her brother had refused to tell them he narrowly missed being hit when shot at on his way home), and the family home where the children stay with their father has been under constant surveillance by different vehicles, usually with temporary cardboard licenses. In one instance the vehicle was identified as belonging to local Hawks detectives, and a report was made to the Directorate’s head.   On Saturday 5 November 2022, after Mashale had gone to their home to spend time with her unwell minor child, the vehicle doing the surveillance – a black double-cab Ford Ranger – pursued the car, driven by her son-in-law, returning her to her hiding place, through Bloemfontein until the driver finally lost them in a maze of township houses and shacks.  An identical vehicle was seen last week at the Mangaung police station, registered to CIS in KZN (an identical vehicle has also been keeping another vulnerable local person under surveillance).   

The adult Mashale children have described how their lives have been turned upside down by worrying about their mother’s safety and no longer being able to live a normal life with friends themselves. One daughter talks of having to hold back tears, and to watch over her shoulder all the time to be sure she is not being followed. Another says her life has come to a ‘standstill’, and she tells of their having to stay away from their friends as anything could happen to them anytime and endanger them.  One told of how she worries every day about her mother ‘ I fear for her life every second of the day’ – a mother who had always been there for her children, and since March 2022 has not even dared to spend Christmas or birthdays with them.  It is thought that the CIS vehicle watching the house last week thought she might be there to attend a baby shower being held for her pregnant daughter – but it was held at another venue.  A criminal case has been opened by one of the adult children, but whether any prosecution will follow remains to be seen (none has resulted from cases opened by Patricia, including the seizure of her personal cellphone without a court order, accompanied by abuse and harassment).

 All these illegal surveillance activities have continued, without any known interventions from anyone they have been reported to, including Parliament. It is not only the Constitution – which guarantees privacy – that the police are breaching: They must also be criminally charged for breaking various provisions of the Children’s Act.  Aged ten, the now twelve year old had to be removed from the weekly boarding school he attended in Trompsburg, where he was happy and did well, after the family car driven by her son in law was followed from there to Bloemfontein in November 2021 by unmarked cars carrying police members (who lost interest when they found Patricia was not in the car)  This incident happened after it became clear that State Security, in the person of Zizi Kodwa was working with the Free State SAPS management to try and find out what the Mashale couple (who have both been reporting corruption for fifteen years) knew about any ministerial involvement in corruption – which is the reason that Patricia’s personal cellphone was illegally seized.

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A similar incident to that of last week – but without the verbal abuse – happened in September 2022 when a large group of uniformed, armed police arrived at the Mashale home to effect a malicious arrest of George Mashale (the children’s father).  He was not at home and the child called his sisters, who arrived and discovered there was no arrest warrant.  Surely, he must have wondered why, when his mother and father had served the SAPS with distinction for years, they were now turning on the family. These, and other abuses of the rights of the minor child, were reported to the SAPS National Commissioner and the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Police in December 2022.  No action whatsoever has followed, except further police abuse in the form of illegal surveillance and serious verbal threat and abuse.   There is absolutely no accountability in government, and Parliament is not acting on it.

The rights of Patricia Mashale to freedom and security of her person (Section 12) have been seriously breached by the ongoing threats and attempts on her life emanating primarily from the SAPS in apparent collusion with the DPP.   Mashale’s dismissal from the police was illegal, and in breach of Section 33 (Just Administrative Action) causing the family serious financial hardship. Impartial justice (Section 179(4) has been denied to her. The family’s right to privacy (Section 14) has been violated by continued surveillance of their home.

Our Constitution, Concourt, and the Children’s Act, emphasise the crucial role of the primary care giver of minor children which has historically, in all societies, been the mother (normative change giving this right to men is a recent development).  The SAPS, who are charged with upholding our laws, are guilty of denying the Mashale child the right to his mother’s care, which she dare not give, because she may risk not only her life, but also the lives of her children, if she does so.

The conduct of the SAPS and the courts (upper guardians of children) violates Article 18 of the African Charter on Human and People’s Right that ‘The family shall be the natural unit and basis for society. It shall be protected by the State, which shall take care of its physical and moral health’  Our South African state has violated the Constitutional rights (Section 28) of this family, instead of protecting them.

Instead of deploying all available Crime Intelligence operatives to find four missing girls in Bloemfontein last weekend (the body of one was found) and an SANDF member who had disappeared (his clothing was found), and stopping a break-in at the magistrate’s court then, CIS were deployed to terrorise the Mashale family  We, the taxpayers (including the Mashales) are paying for the police to  deploy scarce resources to keep people who obey the law, and report corruption, under surveillance, while violent crime rockets. 

The President and Minister Cele are in Bloemfontein this current weekend, spouting the usual platitudes about violence against women and children.  Who do they think they are fooling? Government actions speak far louder than any of the rhetoric regularly spewed out by politicians, including about the protection of whistleblowers (they do not need incentives : All they need is to be protected, and not to lose their jobs).  To put it as politely as possible, they suffer from very severe, chronic, cases of a psychological disorder termed cognitive dissonance.

The Presidencies of Mandela and Ramaphosa could not be more different, especially when it comes to children. It is President Ramaphosa who bears the responsibility for the abuses suffered by the Mashale children – and others – at the hands of the police because he refuses to remove the Minister who, in running the police operationally himself, is fuelling a lawlessness led by SAPS management.  Our President also turns a blind eye, not only to the plethora of allegations (and cases) of criminality, and his lying under oath at the Inquiry which dismissed him as national commissioner, against Cele. He even gives him free rein to run all the police oversight bodies – IPID, the Civilian Secretariat, and even, it seems, the Police Committee in Parliament, himself.  Ramaphosa has turned us into a de facto police state in which politicians, not civil servants, run our institution in breach of our Constitution..

In the disregard he shows for adequate care of our children,  and the abuse of their rights by acts of omission and commission, Cyril Ramaphosa’s legacy,  could not be more different to that of Madiba. – and history must judge him for the great damage he has done.

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