Even when enjoying sundowners at the Imperial Club at the hotel in Dubai, Mbalula is never far from his phone, ready to show the public the police’s successes.
He is, after all, just a high-speed internet tweet away. Specially dedicated wi-fi facilities all over the chic Dubai beach resort is one of the selling points of the Imperial Club.
As questions abound about Police Minister Fikile Mbalula’s whereabouts during the festive season, a picture has emerged of him holidaying at the 5-star Atlantis, The Palm hotel in Dubai.
You will need it if you want to take enviable holiday snaps with the “amazing Atlantis backdrop”, the hotel’s website promises.
Because, even though Mbalula believes it is a “public service overreach” for citizens to know where he takes his family on holiday, he has still been spotted in the opulent United Arab Emirates city.
On Thursday a picture of Mbalula with his family was taken inside the hotel’s specialised Imperial Club lounge area, where drinks and canapés are offered between 17:00 and 19:00, before one heads out for an evening meal.
In the picture he is, perhaps not surprisingly, on his phone. He sent out several tweets around the time he was in the lounge having drinks. Some were reflections on 2017 and the upcoming year and others were on policing matters.
“Provincial Tracking Team, Crime Intelligence and Provincial Detectives, intercepted a kidnapping syndicate. Kidnapped victim rescued and ransom money recovered. Wanya kidnapper,” Mbalula tweeted. In order to enjoy sundowner drinks at the Imperial Club, you have to pay extra on top of your normal room prices which, according to Trivago, is currently priced from more than R8 000 for two people a night in a deluxe ocean room.
The hotel is described on its website as a “majestic, 5-star luxury hotel in Dubai” which is located on the man-made island known as The Palm.
“From the moment you arrive, you will be immersed in a dazzling world of imagination, pleasure and luxury. The Atlantis beach resort is an aquatic wonderland by the sea, offering relaxation and thrills for couples and families alike,” the website boasts.
Each room has spectacular views of the “azure waters of the Arabian Sea”. It also has an aquarium. You can get close to dolphins at Dolphin Bay, scuba dive with sharks and go to the Aquaventure Waterpark.
Additional benefits of paying for The Imperial Club extras include personalised service and breakfast, tea and evening drinks at the lounge.
We can’t have a winning team without a leader
Mbalula gave away his location in a tweet in which he sent happy festive season wishes.
The geolocation on the tweet gave his location as Dubai. Even though he later deleted the tweet and all his further social media communication had the geolocation function switched off, the cat was out the bag and South Africans expressed their dismay at his chosen holiday destination.
Repeated attempts by News24 to get comment from Mbalula’s spokesperson proved unsuccessful.
The location of Mbalula’s holiday destination led to a twitter spat between him and EFF leader Julius Malema, who questioned why the police minister was in Dubai, particularly around the festive season when crime is known to increase.
Mbalula retorted, questioning: “It is leisure to b with family? Don’t b desperate for votes you can do better don’t doubt your support man (sic)”
The minister then suggested that Malema “has the unquestionable right to engage me am not allergic to that. I must also clarify him [on] something, I don’t do quite often…”
Malema, meanwhile began sending out a series of posts suggesting: “I’m all for the family and you know that very well but timing is everything, we can’t have the winning team without a leader. You miscalculated, just accept and come back home now.”
Mbalula followed by posting a number of crime-busting acts by members of the police.
Earlier in the week, Mbalula playfully dismissed the social media frenzy over whether or not he was on holiday in Dubai.
“Uba ndiphi? Ngentlonipho nokuz’thoba noko ayifuni nina lonto Nina ababuzayo. eStay in yho lane bheka indaba zakho Ngu Dezemba lo sukuye… #Holidaes Zi big daes!!! (Where am I? With utmost respect, that’s none of the concern of those asking. Stay in your lane; mind your business as we’re in December),” said Mbalula in one tweet.
“I conclude by saying to those who question my whereabouts am with my family enjoying my December break Anything beyond that is Public service overreach. #TimeToReflect #SeasonsGreetings (sic),” he added in another post. In another post on the social media site, he referenced the controversy over Dubai’s association with the Gupta family: “Safa ngama Gupta [we are dying because of the Guptas] I pitty those who have never been to Dubai hurry up guys the gates are closing the law is coming that debars u from visiting Dubai. Bcos it is allegedly owned by the Guptas (sic).” In October, News24 revealed that the Gupta family and some of their associates established an extensive network of front companies in and around Dubai that were used to conceal and allegedly launder hundreds of millions of rand in dubious payments linked to government contracts in South Africa.
Around the same time, EWN reported that Sedgars Sport, who supplied uniforms for South Africa’s Olympic athletes and officials, had partially paid for Mbalula’s trip to Dubai between December 2016 and January 2017, while he was sports minister.
Sedgars denied financing the trip, and Mbalula said he paid for it himself.