South Africa’s Higher Education Deputy Minister, Mduduzi Manana, was on Thursday granted 5 000 rand bail at the Randburg Magistrates Court four days after he was accused of assaulting three women.
33-year-old Manana appeared briefly in court on two charges of assault with intent to cause grievous bodily harm.
The deputy minister was allegedly involved in an argument on who should succeed President Jacob Zuma at the party’s elective conference in December but lost his cool when one of them made a comment about his sexuality‚ labelling him gay.
One of the victims‚ Mandisa Duma‚ opened a case of assault with intent to cause grievous bodily harm at the Douglasdale Police station on the very same day.
Duma‚ who sustained a black eye‚ bruised knees and a swollen face and neck‚ claimed that while walking out‚ Manana slapped her cousin across the face after the comment about his sexuality before turning on her in the parking lot.
In a video that went viral on social media, the deputy minister is seen at the Cubana nightclub in Johannesburg wearing a black t-shirt and a black and white cap.
Three men are seen dragging one of the women down as she tries to get up while bouncers stand by without intervening.
Manana has since admitted and apologised for the incident but his apology was rejected by the victims amid petitions by civil rights activists and calls by members of the public for his resignation.
Women Affairs Minister Susan Shabangu had also expressed her reservations about Manana’s behavior saying that he should be held accountable for his action. She said those in power must not get preferential treatment if they have done wrong.
“Many people end up just saying sorry when it comes to violence against women. Sorry is not enough. We cannot treat people differently, they must all face the law,” Shabangu said.
Both President Zuma and the ANC condemned the minister’s conduct and Police Minister Fikile Mbalula had announced on Wednesday that Manana would face the law.
Mbalula gave an update on the case at a press briefing after the court session and stressed that Manana would not be handled with kid gloves.
He dismissed allegations that the case was not handled with urgency, explaining that the deputy minister had already admitted the accusations, which made it easier to prosecute.
Mbalula said Manana should have known better. “We are saying the case in point against the Minister is very disappointing. We expect individuals like him to act as ambassadors in fighting violence against women but nonetheless, everyone is presumed innocent until proven otherwise and nobody is above the law. That is guaranteed in our jurisprudence.
“I can assure you that Manana will not be treated with kid gloves. He would face the wrath of the law in relation to the reported crimes of which today he appeared in court.”
He is scheduled to appear again in court on September 13.