Two versions, one meeting

On Thursday last week, South Africa’s security cluster ministers and senior civil servants met in Cape Town. The next day Justice Minister Jeff Radebe announced a security clampdown in Marikana and on Saturday the police and army invaded the mining town, confiscated weapons and arrested seven miners. On Friday this week an arrest warrant for Julius Malema was issued. Different versions exist about the nature of the meeting. Those sympathetic to Malema say the meeting was clearly political interference in his investigation and prosecution. Others deny the meeting was about Malema, saying it was a ‘holistic meeting’ about the state of the criminal justice system.

Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa

Justice Minister Jeff Radebe

State Security Minister Siyabonga Cwele

Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan

Mining minister Susan Shabangu

Acting NPA head Nomgcobo Jiba

Police Commissioner Riah Phiyega

On Wednesday night last week all security ministers and heads of crime and justice institutions were summoned to Cape Town for an urgent meeting.
On Thursday the group met at a building opposite Parliament and was addressed by Jeff Radebe and Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa. Mthethwa was ‘seething’ and asked why Malema was allowed to do as he wanted. The heads of the institutions were given two hours to come up with a ‘strategy’. A three-pronged plan was decided upon: sending the army and police to Marikana to arrest the ‘ring leaders’ of the Lonmin strike; charging Malema with inciting the Marikana violence and for making the economy ungovernable; and arresting Malema for the Limpopo tender corruption.

It was a holistic meeting about the state of the criminal justice system.
The politicians wanted to know why the system wasn’t working. Lots of examples were discussed, like tender corruption in the provinces and political assassinations in KwaZulu-Natal. Questions were raised why cases are often postponed or don’t reach the courts. The civil servants, not the politicians, raised the issue of Malema’s case. The politicians cautioned that Malema shouldn’t be the issue. The ministers criticised the NPA and the police, and asked them what chance normal citizens had for their cases to be processed if they couldn’t even handle the big cases. Some people – not politicians – brought up Malema constantly, but the politicians expressed a concern that if he were arrested now he would use the situation to win sympathy.
MORNÉ SCHAAP, Graphics24