ANC’s spox nabbed for drunken driving

2010-03-11 13:57

ANC spokesman Jackson Mthembu was arrested for drunken driving in

Cape Town this morning – but this did not stop him from doing his job.

Mthembu, in a 21-minute telephonic interview with Sapa, apparently

while in police custody, passionately defended youth leader Julius Malema before

bursting into song.

“Don’t blame Julius. In fact, on this one, I will defend him,” said

Mthembu, speaking on the criminal complaint against Malema for singing “kill the

boers, they are rapists”.

“You must blame the ANC, don’t blame Julius. But when you blame the

ANC, then contextualise it,” said Mthembu, before he started singing the “kill

the boers” song to Sapa over the phone.

Mthembu was arrested on the N2 near the Pinelands off-ramp around

8am and was only set to be released from the Mowbray police station later this


Sapa phoned him at 9.22am for comment on the Malema story and a

21-minute interview followed.

When called back at 11.23am to ask if he had been arrested for

drunken driving, Mthembu again answered his phone, but this time the call lasted

only 40 seconds. He replied: “I can’t comment”.

The Independent Democrats (ID) called on the ANC to release a

statement about Mthembu’s arrest.

“Coming so soon after the news that Mthembu apparently sang to a

Sapa journalist this morning, the ID regards the reports of his landing up in

jail as quite plausible,” said ID secretary general Haniff Hoosen in a


“In fact, seen within the context of the ANC’s years-long

reputation for saying one thing and doing something completely different, I

think it is safe to say that Mr Mthembu has today earned his ANC stripes.”

ANC spokesman Ishmael Mnisi – whose other colleague, Brian Sokutu,

was suspended this week – said party secretary general Gwede Mantashe was

investigating the report of his arrest.

“My eardrum is complaining,” Mnisi said in jest, when asked how he

was doing.

“Mr Mantashe is investigating all those issues [the Mthembu arrest]

so we will then take it from there,” he added.

JP Smith, Cape Town’s mayoral committee member for safety and

security, said members of the so-called ghost squad, the city’s special unmarked

high performance traffic unit, arrested Mthembu.

“Jackson Mthembu was arrested this morning [Thursday] on the N2 for

driving in the bus lane.

 When they pulled him over, there was a strong smell of

alcohol and they arrested him,” said Smith.

He said a colleague driving behind Mthembu pulled off the highway

and tried to stop the officers from cuffing him. It was only then the officers

realised he was a high-ranking politician, said Smith.

Mthembu was first taken to Mowbray police station. Smith said a

constable at the station did not want to process his case because he was a

senior ANC member.

“They were unwilling to process the details against Mthembu. There

was a threat made that our officers would be arrested,” said Smith.

“The officers felt they were being intimidated because of the

political credentials of the person involved.”

The ghost squad members then took him to the Safely Home Anti

Drunk-driving Operations War Room (Shadow) in Athlone.

“The law should not protect politicians,” said Smith.

“He was tested for alcohol and was found to be more than three

times over the legal limit. He tested 0.87 while the legal limit is 0.24

[milligrams of alcohol per 1000 millilitres of breath],” Smith said.

He was tested with a breathalyser.

“The results from his test were positive and will now be taken to

court. It is a strange time of day to be under the influence.”

Smith said Mthembu was then taken back to the Mowbray police


Cape traffic spokesman Kevin Jacobs confirmed a senior ANC member

was arrested for drunken driving this morning.

Earlier this week, Sokutu, also an ANC spokesman, was suspended for

remarks he made about President Jacob Zuma failing to declare his financial

interests on time.

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