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CityPress - - News - PADDY HARPER paddy.harper@city­press.co.za

olice man­age­ment al­legedly de­layed the in­ter­view process for a key clus­ter post to al­low KwaZulu-Natal pro­vin­cial po­lice com­mis­sioner Lieu­tenant Gen­eral Mma­mon­nye Ngob­eni’s hus­band – a po­lice of­fi­cer who was sent on a work trip to China – to be in­ter­viewed for the job he ul­ti­mately se­cured.

City Press has learnt from three se­nior po­lice of­fi­cers that the in­ter­view panel for the post of Pi­eter­mar­itzburg SA Po­lice Ser­vice (SAPS) clus­ter head – for which then Bri­gadier Lu­cas Ngob­eni had ap­plied – was resched­uled from De­cem­ber 15 last year to a later date to al­low him a chance to be in­ter­viewed, be­cause he was only due back in the coun­try on De­cem­ber 18.

A se­nior SAPS crime in­tel­li­gence source al­leged this week that the tim­ing of the in­ter­view had been ma­nip­u­lated to en­sure that Lu­cas Ngob­eni was in­ter­viewed for the job, which has given him con­trol of 13 po­lice sta­tions in the KwaZulu-Natal cap­i­tal.

“How can a wife nom­i­nate her hus­band for a trip when she is his su­pe­rior? How can a panel be re­con­vened just to ac­com­mo­date one per­son?” he asked.

An­other pro­vin­cial SAPS source told City Press that, while there had been an ex­ten­sion, it had only been granted af­ter Mma­mon­nye Ngob­eni per­son­ally re­quested it. The source said cer­tain cri­te­ria for prop­erly fill­ing the post, in­clud­ing the short­list­ing of a fe­male can­di­date, had not been met.

“There were ir­reg­u­lar­i­ties through­out the process. The process was a farce,” the source al­leged.

How­ever, SAPS man­age­ment has de­nied any wrong­do­ing on the part of the com­mis­sioner, who with­drew from the panel ad­ju­di­cat­ing ap­pli­ca­tions for the post of run­ning the prov­ince’s most in­flu­en­tial sta­tion clus­ter.

Mma­mon­nye Ngob­eni’s spokesper­son, Colonel Jay Naicker, said she chose not to par­tic­i­pate in the panel be­cause her hus­band had been one of the ap­pli­cants.

But ac­cord­ing to the crime in­tel­li­gence source, Pi­eter­mar­itzburg po­lice had ex­pected that the act­ing head of Moun­tain Rise Po­lice Sta­tion, Bri­gadier Fran­cis Ban­tham, would be ap­pointed be­cause of her knowl­edge of lo­cal polic­ing. Lu­cas Ngob­eni was ap­pointed to head the Pi­eter­mar­itzburg clus­ter with ef­fect from March 1 this year and was pro­moted to ma­jor gen­eral. He had pre­vi­ously been com­man­der of the Phoenix clus­ter north of Dur­ban and had been in the pro­vin­cial po­lice’s sup­ply chain man­age­ment unit.

Naicker said there had been noth­ing un­usual in the one-week ex­ten­sion given to Lu­cas Ngob­eni, which had also been given to other ap­pli­cants.

In a memo to the Phoenix clus­ter in Oc­to­ber last year, Mma­mon­nye Ngob­eni wrote that her hus­band had been nom­i­nated to at­tend the com­mu­nity polic­ing sem­i­nary in Shan­dong prov­ince, China, from Novem­ber 25 to De­cem­ber 16 last year and re­ferred all queries to pro­vin­cial hu­man re­sources.

Naicker said Lu­cas Ngob­eni had been cho­sen by the na­tional po­lice lead­er­ship to go on the trip to China – and not by his wife. He said Lu­cas Ngob­eni had gone on the trip with of­fi­cers from other prov­inces and there had been noth­ing un­to­ward about his wife writ­ing a let­ter con­firm­ing that he had been nom­i­nated to at­tend. “There was no pref­er­en­tial treat­ment given to him and the [in­ter­view] panel did not in­clude Gen­eral Ngob­eni,” Naicker said. “There were other ap­pli­cants who were given ex­ten­sions as well.” Lu­cas Ngob­eni’s rep­u­ta­tion, how­ever, has taken some­thing of a knock re­cently af­ter he be­came em­broiled in a con­tro­versy sparked by the failed cor­rup­tion trial of con­tro­ver­sial Umh­langa busi­nessper­son Thoshan Pan­day, who al­legedly set­tled a R30 000 bill for Lu­cas Ngob­eni’s lav­ish birth­day party in 2010. In 2011, Pan­day was charged with al­legedly de­fraud­ing the SAPS of more than R60 mil­lion for ac­com­mo­da­tion dur­ing the 2010 Fifa World Cup and for a sub­se­quent al­leged bribery at­tempt in which he and his coac­cused – SAPS sup­ply chain of­fi­cial Colonel Navin Mad­hoe – tried to pay off pro­vin­cial Hawks head Ma­jor Gen­eral Jo­han Booy­sen with R1.3 mil­lion.

That case was thrown out of court af­ter ev­i­dence of il­le­gal phone tap­ping and other un­law­ful sur­veil­lance by crime in­tel­li­gence op­er­a­tives work­ing with the Hawks on the case was pre­sented to court.

Lu­cas Ngob­eni’s ap­point­ment comes on the heels of his wife’s five-year con­tract ex­ten­sion, which was made de­spite her be­ing at the cen­tre of a se­ries of al­le­ga­tions of in­ter­fer­ence in Pan­day’s pros­e­cu­tion and the sub­se­quent case against Booy­sen.

Booy­sen was ar­rested shortly af­ter Pan­day’s dis­charge on hit squad charges stem­ming from killings com­mit­ted by the Cato Manor se­ri­ous and vi­o­lent crimes unit, but those charges were with­drawn af­ter a court ruled that the rack­e­teer­ing cer­tifi­cate against him by then act­ing na­tional direc­tor of public pros­e­cu­tions Nomg­cobo Jiba had been un­law­ful.

Jiba is now fac­ing charges of fraud and de­feat­ing the ends of jus­tice for ig­nor­ing ev­i­dence con­tained in po­lice dock­ets that proved Booy­sen’s in­no­cence.

Lieu­tenant Gen­eral Mma­mon­nye Ngob­eni

Ma­jor Gen­eral Lu­cas Ngob­eni

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