By THEMBEKA DLAMINI | 2018-07-15
Despite this being the last stretch of the 10th parliament, time has failed to soften Minister Sibongile Ndlela-Simelane’s inability to tolerate journalists.
After noting a Sunday Observer journalist taking pictures of some of the vehicles which were parked at the offices of the deputy prime minister on Friday morning, Ndlela-Simelane called for the arrest of the journalist.
Ndlela-Simelane, who noted the tail end of the journalist’s mission, called for him and stated, in a rowdy manner, that police should be called to arrest him for taking pictures of their vehicles.
“Why are you taking pictures of our cars? E24 000 of our salary is withheld every month to finance these cars,” she shouted as she called and gestured for security officers to arrest the journalist.
Despite being handed an identification card clearly stating the journalist’s position within this publication, she would not be moved and called for the pictures taken to be deleted.
The journalist obliged and deleted the pictures to her satisfaction; however, she didn’t notice that some were already shared via WhatsApp with another journalist.
She did not care to hear his explanation pertaining that the Sunday Observer previously wrote an article about the BMWs being in a bad state of disrepair and the pictures were to be used to show that some of them were up and running.
In the midst of her tantrum, other ministers minded their own business and did not join in her tirade or say anything against it as they walked to their vehicles and drove off.
Some of the ministers present who could have witnessed the incident include finance’s Martin Dlamini; information, communications and technology’s Dumisani Ndlangamandla; economic planning’s Prince Hlangusemphi as well as foreign affair’s Chief Mgwagwa Gamedze.
The DPM, who by then was in his vehicle, was driven out without complaining about the journalist performing his duties. The health minister directed the reporter to the guard house near the gate where she left him with the hope that he would be disciplined.
As soon as she left, the security warned the reporter about the issue at hand and requested assistance from a female police officer on what to do with him. She advised him to let the journalist go as there was nothing they could charge him on.
Ministers’ BMWs getting fixed
True to assertions by the ministry of public works and transport, some ministers’ BMWs are back on the road.
On Friday, a few ministers, who were previously chauffeured in South African registered vehicles, were noted driven in the black ministerial issued BMWs.
According to ministers who are still to get their cars returned to them, they are tired of the hype surrounding the vehicles and requested that all questions be directed to the minister of public works and transport, who did not respond to calls made to her official number.
In the absence of their official vehicles, the ministers have been chauffeured in various luxury cars.
An employee from Carson Group of companies said they were working against time to return the vehicles before the end of the month.
On the other hand, a dealer recently revealed that the vehicles, which have only been used for less than four years, were worth about E550 000 seeing as, even though government paid E850 000 for them, they were discounted heavily as they were sourced from the manufacture, not a dealer.
…Minister Ndlela-Simelane’s outburst track record
n Once responded to journalists that they had no business pursuing medically related articles as they were in need of a person qualified in the field as they often do not understand inherent complications in handling such matters.
n Threatened to teach a journalist a lesson after she wrote about the minister’s chauffer being afraid of losing two fingers following an accident while cleaning a lawn mower.
n Tried to stop MPs from going to South Africa to investigate what was happening with the Phalala Fund after patients were turned back. She is allegd to have gone to the extent of calling their contact person and telling him that the MPs had breached protocol despite that they carried with them a minute signed by the PM approving the trip.
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