A FAMOUS GROUSE
IT has been an interesting week for law and order. It started with a threat to arrest former Hawks boss Lieutenant-General Berning “Bridges” Ntlemeza for impersonating a police officer and ended with an alleged assassination plot that was more cuckoo than coup.
Ntlemeza sparked something of a crisis when he pitched up for work on Monday, doing so in spite of a court order declaring his appointment as head of the unit invalid.
He has, as is now the custom, instructed his lawyer, the reassuringly-named Comfort Ngidi, to approach the Supreme Court of Appeal in a bid to drag out proceedings for as long as possible.
This was too much for the greenhorn police minister, Fikile Mbalula, who called a press conference to reassure the country that, job-wise, he really was on top of things.
You may recall that when he was appointed to the position, in that disastrous cabinet reshuffle, Mbalula promptly shut down the social media accounts that kept him so engagingly preoccupied as sports minister.
Here at the Mahagony Ridge our disappointment was palpable. No more selfies of Mablula with half-dessed pop stars. No more silly pictures of Mbaks sitting on gilded thrones and, oddly enough, his feet not quite reaching the floor. No more glimpses of those striking golf outfits.
One snap that did however circulate after the reshuffle showed him sucking pensively on a drooping briar pipe. A deerstalker would have completed the picture, but you got the idea. Sheriff Sherlock meant business.
As he told reporters on Tuesday, “General Ntlemeza’s lawyers are very provocative, and they know how to play the law. They are playing all of you who are actually law illiterates. They are tossing you up and down. You can entertain them, leave me out of that game. I’m a law expert now. I know the law. I’m the minister of police, I’m not blind to the law. The law will never be fair to me if I act in an illiterate manner.”
Speaking of experts, it was reassuring to note Mbalula’s deft adoption of the bombastic cliches, spluttered jingoism and shoot yourself in the foot to kill policies that have characterised the SAPS leadership in the Jacob Zuma era.
He was all over the place at that presser, threatening to send a task force after Ntlemeza who was out there, roaming Pretoria, armed and dangerous, lurking in safe houses. He was not allowing rogueness in South Africa, willy nilly. He was going to act.
By the same token, Mbalula was a patient man who had acted in a civilised manner, who was not at war with Ntlemeza. There were no gimmicks here — citizens were quite entitled to approach the courts for relief. Even with voodoo lawyers.
Which brings us sharply to the court appearance yesterday of Elvis Ramosebudi, who is allegedly the mastermind behind the fantastical plot to assassinate a number of prominent South Africans whose removal from this mortal coil, frankly, probably wouldn’t trouble too many of their neighbours.
Top of the list was the President — no surprises there — followed by four Guptas: Venal, Anal, Renal and Proctal. Then came a bunch of the usual suspects: ANC Youth League president Collen Maine (a very soft target; fire a shot in any direction at random and you’re bound to hit him in the gut), MK veterans leader Kebby Maphatsoe, the perpetually lachrymose rent-seeking Brian Molefe, the other former finance minister Des van Rooyen, and so on.
According to the Hawks, Ramosebudi is the founder of the shadowy Anti-State Capture Death Squad Alliance. Which is worrying. A death squad is bad enough, but a death squad alliance? That’s like a fate that worse than a fate that’s worse than death.
Investigators claim they intercepted correspondence from Ramosebudi in which he not only solicited funds from potential donors in order to bankroll out his, um, whack-job, but also unwisely provided them with his banking details.
He was reportedly arrested “while he was busy explaining to donors how the assassination of state capture beneficiaries was going to be carried out by the undercover coup plot snipers.”
There has been no word as to who these donors may be.
Unsurprisingly, there was talk of Ramosebudi being referred for mental observation.
As the prosecutor, King Masemola, explained, “I’ve been informed … that it was not normal for the person to commit such an offence using his own personal bank account and go around to the companies [for] fundraising … a normal person can’t go around asking for millions, not even thousands, for his own personal things.”
Well, you tell the President that.
This article first appeared in the Weekend Argus.