MEC, bodyguards shot at

2010-10-19 14:10

Johannesburg – Mpumalanga's MEC for human settlements and two of his bodyguards were shot at, then robbed by men driving a car with a flashing blue light on Monday night, police said on Tuesday.

Captain Leonard Hlathi said the MEC, Madala Masuku, was travelling on the Bapsfontein offramp near Delmas around 20:15, when a silver grey BMW five series with flashing blue lights came up behind them signalling for them to stop.

Masuku's car also had a flashing blue light, and his driver ignored what was happening and kept driving. "They fired a shot through the MEC's car and the driver then brought the car to a standstill," said Hlathi.

After that, three men from the BMW, dressed in the blue police uniform, approached the MEC's vehicle and claimed they were looking for drugs and "other unlawful things".

"The MEC introduced himself and said he was an MEC, he was carrying no drugs, and that he was with his two bodyguards," continued Hlathi.

The men said they would take the MEC and the bodyguards to a police station and verify their identities, but in the meantime, took away six cellphones, a bodyguard's firearm and the car keys.

They later handed back the cellphones and fled the scene with the car keys and the firearm.

Not physically hurt

They drove off in the direction of Johannesburg. Hlathi said the police hoped that anyone who may be able to provide information on the matter would pass this on to police.

Masuku's spokesperson was not immediately available to comment but Hlathi said the three were not physically hurt during the shooting.

Police have not linked it to other potentially politically motivated incidents in the province and the possible existence of a "hit list". Victor Mlimi, a deputy director in the Mpumalanga department of human settlements, was recently charged with fraud, forgery and uttering along with Sunday Times reporter Mzilikazi wa Afrika.

Wa Afrika was in possession of a letter of resignation purportedly from the province's premier, David Mabuza.

The charges against Wa Afrika and Mlimi were withdrawn on September 8.

Hlathi thought Monday's incident was "just mischief".

"Blue light gangs" – groups of people who take the appearance of police officers to get people to pull over to rob them – are not uncommon in South Africa.