Cops who ‘bundled’ Gupta in car fired

2012-03-06 00:00

TWO policemen who tried to arrest Atul Gupta, President Jacob Zuma’s billionaire friend, in September 2010 for allegedly not allowing them to search his vehicle, have been sacked because of the incident.

The Witness’s sister newspaper Beeld has established that the two policemen, Constable Aubrey Mlotshwa and another, named only as Constable Mangema, who were attached to the Sandton police station, appeared in a closed internal hearing at the provincial police headquarters in Parkview, Johannesburg, on Friday.

The police confirmed yesterday that both men were informed of their official dismissal during the proceedings. Police spokesperson Captain Kym Cloete said the constables were told during the hearing that a decision to punish them had been ratified by the police — and that this punishment was their dismissal.

Mlotshwa and Mangema have been given 10 days to appeal their dismissal and will continue with their duties at Sandton police station in the meantime. Cloete says both men were charged with transgressing police discipline.

Cloete said the presiding officer decides on this only after the appeal process has been concluded.

Provincial police spokesperson Lieutenant-Colonel Katlego Mogale said yesterday she was not authorised to provide the media with any further information about the specific charges on which Mlotshwa and Mangema were eventually found guilty.

The two members stopped Gupta’s BMW X5 on the R55 freeway on September 25 last year as he was on his way to his Saxonwold home, and searched his bodyguard and driver. Mlotshwa and Mangema bundled Gupta into a police van and charged him with obstructing justice at the Sandton police station after he resisted having his vehicle searched.

The Randburg magistrate’s court eventually scrapped the case from the court roll, evidently because senior prosecutors said there was not enough evidence against Gupta for a strong case. Gupta argued that Mlotshwa and Mangema wrongfully targeted him and in a racist manner suggested to him “rather to go back to India”.

The influential Gupta, known for his political ties and his family’s business interests, including the New Age newspaper, among other things, dismissed as “nonsense” allegations that he had threatened to tell Zuma and the now suspended police chief General Bheki Cele to sack Mlotshwa and Mangema.

Gupta’s legal representatives pointed out his cellphone records showed he phoned only the 10111 emergency number during the arrest. Gupta and TNA Media spokesperson Gary Naidoo had not yet responded to inquiries at the time of going to press.

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