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MPS’ LAWYERS: HMCS PROBE POINTLESS EXERCISE

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MBABANE - “This is an exercise in futility.”

These sentiments were shared by lawyers representing incarcerated Members of Parliament (MPs) Mduduzi Bacede Mabuza and Mthandeni Dube, who have raised concerns about the constitution of the probe team. An exercise in futility is an action that is generally pointless and will have no effect. His Majesty’s Correctional Services (HMCS) appointed a six-member team to conduct a probe into the alleged assault of the legislators last Thursday morning. The six officers were appointed to lead the inquiry which seeks to establish what happened during the purported assault of the legislators. The six officers are said to consist of senior personnel within HMCS and had been convening sittings since Saturday.

Assaulted

It was previously reported that the MPs, together with seven inmates, were assaulted by warders who had their faces covered with balaclavas. It was further reported that upon entry, the officers started assaulting the two legislators with open hand claps, fists, kicked them and also used spray guns. The probe, whose fairness, according to the lawyers was in doubt, started on Saturday. Senior Lawyer Ben J. Simelane, who is part of the MPs’ legal team, said in any findings by the probe team, there would be an institutional bias, hence the need for an independent judicial inquiry which would be conducted in the open and witnesses called upon to give evidence.

Discriminatory

Institutional bias involves discriminatory practices that occur at the institutional level of analysis, operating on mechanisms that go beyond individual-level prejudice and discrimination.
“There should be an open commission of enquiry where witnesses will be called. Let someone who is independent do it. Instead of wasting time, why not appoint people who are independent and not attached to the institution?” queried the senior attorney. He was adamant that the investigation should be conducted by someone who would listen to both parties instead of being biased towards either of the parties. “Let’s stop playing games, let us have something in the open. Instead of wasting time, government must set up a proper judicial commission of enquiry,” said Simelane. He went on to describe the exercise (inquiry established by HMCS) as a sheer waste of time and money.

The senior lawyer said the institution could not investigate itself.  He went on to make an example that in the Republic of South Africa, there was the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID) which was responsible for investigating any act of misconduct by the law enforcers. The lawyer further dismissed the allegations by HMCS that the MPs were misbehaving in prison. He insisted that if the duo was engaged in such behaviour, they should have charged them using the internal process of the facility.

Professional

To this, HMCS Public Relations Officer (PRO) Senior Superintendent Gugulethu Dlamini said she could not explain beyond that HMCS was a professional institution. When asked how transparent would the investigations be as there was reasonable apprehension of bias in that the Correctional officers were behind the alleged assault, Dlamini said the institution was professional and in previous instances had even taken officers to task for being engaged in behaviour and or acts contrary to the mandate of the HMCS. In a previous comment, Dlamini had said some officers who had contravened the Correctional Services Act had been investigated and charged.

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