An incident that happened during the weekend saw the Economic Freedom Fighters leader Julius Malema stopped and harassed by a group of armed policemen at the Grayston off-ramp. According to a police report, the reason behind the incident was that the police mistook the convoy for a gang of blue light hijackers.
The officers involved in the incident addressed a report to the Acting National Police Commissioner Lieutenant General Kgomotso Phahlane, explaining their own version of the event.
A member of the Johannesburg Metro Police Department spotted a Golf 7 with blue lights fitted like that of the police driving on Chris Hani road in Soweto. When he made inquiries using the radio so as to find the owner of the vehicle from SAPS reaction channel, the reply he got was that the owner was unknown.
On close observation, the officer then realized that the blue light vehicle was driving together with the Range Rover, which led him to suspect that this might be a case of blue light hijackers. At this point, the member then called for back-up while discreetly following.
“At that time, he was driving at a distance as a precautionary measure waiting for response. All these cars were now driving on the M1 North and the 1st vehicle that responded was a SAPS flying squad vehicle at Killarney bands” the report states.
All the other police vehicles that responded followed the two cars until more Flying Squad cars already waiting at Grayston off-ramp joined them. Together, they were able to stop both vehicles and approached them.
By the time an officer went over to talk to them, the occupants of the two cars were already out of their cars looking embarrassed.
“The member indicated that he saw Mr Malema as he was the loudest of them all saying why was he stopped and harassed.
However, “one of the flying squad members calmed him down and told him that they were not aware that it is him on that convoy as both vehicles were registered under a private company. Everyone then departed and went their separate ways,” said the report.
The officers allegedly informed EFF’s Malema about the reason why he was being stopped and the fact that the car was not registered as belonging to a security division. The officers maintained that their response was because they thought the car could have been part of a blue light hijackers gang which is a strategy used by some gangs to commit crime.
“Currently in Gauteng there are various reported incidents where allegations are made that unmarked vehicles with a blue light were used to commit hijackings.
The report conclude that when the vehicle was pulled over and the officers realised that they were for Malema’s protection, they explained to him on the scene why the vehicle was pulled off and that there was no filed information at that time that it was used for his protection.
Police Minister spokesperson Musa Zondi confirmed the incident saying the vehicle was stopped by JMPD who then called for backup from SAPS.
Zondi also maintained that members were professional in their encounter with Malema and never harassed him as they only explained to him in the most professional way that they thought the convoy belonged to some blue light hijackers.