The Democratic Alliance (DA) calls on Minister of Transport, Fikile Mbalula to publicly apologise to Western Cape Judge President John Hlophe and the Judiciary, following comments he made at the Cape Town Central Train Station on Thursday during his inspection of the damages from an early-morning arson attack.
Minister Mbalula hurled a scathing attack at Judge Hlophe, following his ruling against the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) earlier this month. This ruling had been ordered following the fact that Prasa had terminated security company contracts “without the finalisation of an alternative contract”, thereby putting the safety of passengers, assets and staff at risk.
Judge Hlophe had ruled that Prasa must continue with security contracts until their new tender is finalised, or put alternative measures in place. When asked about the matter, Minister Mbabula boldly stated “does he [Judge Hlophe] know how to run trains? He must ask himself that particular question before he makes himself a Mickey Mouse and turns our courts into something that must not be respected”.
This public rant is highly unbecoming of a Member of the Executive and constitutes a personal and ugly attack on Judge Hlophe and an attack on the Judiciary as a whole. His inferences to Mickey Mouse are childish and indicative of extremely poor character.
Minister Mbalula soon tried to detract from his personal attack on Judge Hlophe by saying “I will never look away from a decision of the court – if the courts say we must implement the decision to bring the security companies back, the board must take that decision … we either implement or challenge those decisions”.
It is clear that Minister Mbalula realised his coarse language was highly unprofessional, but stating he might or might not decide to challenge a court ruling, which he does still respect, does not pardon him for blatantly disrespecting and insulting a member of the Judiciary who made that ruling. Minister Mbalula must hold his tongue accountable for the statements he chose to make, and publicly apologise to Judge Hlophe, and the Judiciary, whose only clear interest was that of passenger, asset and staff safety and the maintenance thereof.
If Minster Mbalula does not publicly apologise and withdraw his vile and childish comments by Sunday, we will approach President Cyril Ramaphosa to intervene.