New top cop ‘purges’ ranks

Phiyega’s sup­port­ers in the fir­ing line as new po­lice head sweeps through the ranks, pick­ing out those who were close to her

CityPress - - Front Page - ABRAM MASHEGO abram.mashego@city­press.co.za

Adra­matic shake-up of se­nior po­lice man­age­ment is un­der way, with act­ing na­tional po­lice com­mis­sioner Lieu­tenant Gen­eral Jo­hannes Phahlane sus­pend­ing or mov­ing at least three se­nior of­fi­cers who were ap­pointed by his sus­pended pre­de­ces­sor, Riah Phiyega. Three high-rank­ing po­lice of­fi­cers, two of them close to Phiyega and one close to Phahlane, told City Press that sev­eral oth­ers were now in the fir­ing line.

Th­ese in­clude Gaut­eng pro­vin­cial po­lice com­mis­sioner Lieu­tenant Gen­eral Le­setja Moth­iba and his KwaZu­luNatal coun­ter­part, Lieu­tenant Gen­eral Mma­mon­nye Ngob­eni.

Mean­while, the war be­tween Phiyega and Po­lice Min­is­ter Nkosi­nathi Nh­leko es­ca­lated this week af­ter he sent a let­ter on Tues­day in­form­ing her he would be with­draw­ing her head of de­part­ment al­lowance – which, City Press un­der­stands, will mean a salary cut of 15% – and re­cov­er­ing the al­lowances that she had been “over­paid”.

Phiyega hit back on Fri­day and, in a lawyer’s let­ter City Press has seen, threat­ened that un­less Nh­leko un­der­took not to “im­ple­ment the con­tem­plated ac­tion”, she would take him to court.

On Thurs­day, Phahlane or­dered for­mer act­ing crime in­tel­li­gence di­vi­sional com­mis­sioner Ma­jor Gen­eral Bongiwe Zulu to va­cate her po­si­tion and move to the less pow­er­ful job of head of po­lice re­search.

City Press has seen the let­ter Phahlane wrote “no­ti­fy­ing” Zulu of her re­moval and an in­struc­tion for her to leave her of­fice by to­mor­row.

Zulu, who Phiyega ap­pointed in 2013, has been or­dered to lead the po­lice’s re­search in­sti­tute that Phiyega cre­ated.

Phiyega ap­pointed Zulu as act­ing head of crime in­tel­li­gence af­ter the di­vi­sional com­mis­sioner for crime in­tel­li­gence and pro­tec­tion ser­vices, Ma­jor Gen­eral Chris Ng­cobo, was placed on spe­cial leave af­ter a vet­ting process re­vealed he had no ma­tric cer­tifi­cate.

Ng­cobo, now the am­bas­sador des­ig­nate to Mali, was found to have lied about his qual­i­fi­ca­tions.

Zulu’s pre­vi­ous po­si­tion, as di­vi­sional com­mis­sioner of hu­man re­sources, has now been handed to Lieu­tenant Gen­eral Nh­lanhla Mkhwanazi, who acted as po­lice chief af­ter Bheki Cele was sus­pended.

The move has an­gered po­lice of­fi­cers close to Phiyega who claim Phahlane is tar­get­ing them.

“Every­one who was close to Phiyega is now be­ing tar­geted. They are ei­ther be­ing frus­trated or re­de­ployed to var­i­ous po­si­tions, while some do not have a clear job de­scrip­tion,” said a se­nior of­fi­cer close to Phiyega.

But a se­nior of­fi­cer close to Phahlane, and an­other con­fi­dant of se­nior po­lice lead­ers, de­nied that the move to re­move those close to Phiyega was a purge, say­ing it was aimed at build­ing a team that the new act­ing com­mis­sioner could trust to de­liver.

“She also sus­pended a lot of peo­ple whose views were against hers. She is get­ting a taste of her own medicine,” said the of­fi­cer close to Phahlane. He said the ac­tion to re­move the four from their po­si­tions would be taken within three months.

Phiyega’s spokesper­son, Solomon Mak­gale, and her long­time ally, deputy com­mis­sioner Nobubele Mbekela, were sus­pended this week for their roles in is­su­ing state­ments in sup­port of her.

The state­ments were made in Par­lia­ment by sev­eral pro­vin­cial com­mis­sion­ers when it be­came clear Phiyega would face a board of in­quiry into her fit­ness to hold of­fice af­ter the re­lease of the Marikana Com­mis­sion of In­quiry re­port.

Three se­nior po­lice of­fi­cers from both camps said ac­tion would soon be taken against Moth­iba, Ngob­eni and other Phiyega loy­al­ists, in­clud­ing deputy na­tional com­mis­sioner Khehla Sit­hole, who is head of polic­ing op­er­a­tions, and head of de­tec­tives Vi­neshku­mar Moonoo.

Moth­iba and Ngob­eni re­fused to com­ment when they were con­tacted by City Press.

Sit­hole and Moonoo did not re­spond to sev­eral SMSes and voice mes­sages ask­ing for com­ment.

Ngob­eni has been a con­tro­ver­sial pro­vin­cial com­mis­sioner with a long-stand­ing friend­ship with busi­ness­man Thoshan Pan­day. Two weeks ago, News24 re­ported on a se­cret foren­sic re­port by PwC, which found Pan­day al­legedly show­ered Ngob­eni and other of­fi­cers with gifts in an ap­par­ent ex­change for chan­nelling busi­ness to his com­pa­nies.

Five com­pa­nies linked to Pan­day made a com­bined 200% profit on all items or ser­vices ped­dled to the po­lice. Pan­day re­fused to com­ment on the re­port, say­ing it could be “fake” and his lawyers hadn’t seen it.

Moonoo has also courted con­tro­versy. He was ac­cused by for­mer Hawks head Anwa Dra­mat of in­ter­fer­ing in high-pro­file cases, in­clud­ing the in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the over­spend­ing on Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma’s Nkandla home.

Mbekela has been sus­pended for sev­eral rea­sons, in­clud­ing say­ing in a ra­dio in­ter­view that “the men of the coun­try are at­tack­ing women in the coun­try”, in­di­cat­ing that Phiyega was be­ing tar­geted be­cause of her gen­der.

Her charge sheet, which City Press has seen, in­cludes charges of im­proper con­duct and the “dis­grace­ful and un­ac­cept­able man­ner” in which she con­ducted the in­ter­view.

Mak­gale and Mbekela have made un­suc­cess­ful rep­re­sen­ta­tions to Phahlane ex­plain­ing why they should not be sus­pended.

Mak­gale wrote, through his lawyers, that his “con­duct amounted to noth­ing more than him car­ry­ing out his func­tions as head of com­mu­ni­ca­tions”.

In the sub­mis­sion to Phahlane by Mbekela’s lawyers, she says the in­quiry rec­om­mended by the port­fo­lio com­mit­tee is still sub­ject to re­view and is “un­der con­sid­er­a­tion by the Speaker”.

Polic­ing an­a­lyst Gareth Ne­wham, the head of the gov­er­nance, crime and jus­tice di­vi­sion at the In­sti­tute for Se­cu­rity Stud­ies, said a ma­jor po­lice reshuf­fle was a good thing,

“Th­ese changes are to be wel­comed given that the di­ag­no­sis of the Na­tional Plan­ning Com­mis­sion was that a fun­da­men­tal prob­lem fac­ing the SAPS [SA Po­lice Ser­vice] is re­lated to a se­rial cri­sis of top man­age­ment,” he said. “This sit­u­a­tion has con­trib­uted to a de­te­ri­o­ra­tion of polic­ing re­sult­ing in a con­sis­tent up­ward trend in se­ri­ous, vi­o­lent and or­gan­ised crime over the past few years.”

Ne­wham said re­mov­ing the SAPS lead­er­ship re­spon­si­ble for the de­cline was “just a first step”.

“Polic­ing will only im­prove if highly skilled po­lice­men and women of un­ques­tion­able in­tegrity are ap­pointed to fill top lead­er­ship po­si­tions,” he said, adding that va­cant posts should be filled by way of a “trans­par­ent and com­pet­i­tive process as rec­om­mended by the Na­tional Devel­op­ment Plan”.

Phiyega this week ac­cused the new po­lice lead­er­ship of sid­ing with Nh­leko and cam­paign­ing against those she worked closely with.

She said in a state­ment: “I note with con­cern the cam­paign that is be­ing waged by the newly ap­pointed lead­ers at the SAPS with the back­ing and bless­ing of the min­istry of po­lice.

“In this re­gard, I will spare no ef­fort in fight­ing against un­law­ful pro­cesses aimed at forc­ing me to re­sign from my po­si­tion with­out the op­por­tu­nity to present my side of the story.

“Fear is be­ing in­stilled in those who have the re­spon­si­bil­ity to serve the na­tion. Al­ready those I have worked with and/or pro­moted are be­ing vic­timised. There is a clear plan to re­move them from the SAPS sim­ply be­cause they are per­ceived to have been close to me.”

This week, a crime in­tel­li­gence of­fi­cer laid crim­i­nal charges against Phiyega af­ter he al­legedly wit­nessed how she had de­feated the ends of jus­tice by plan­ning to un­der­mine a crim­i­nal probe into sus­pended Western Cape po­lice com­mis­sioner Arno Lamoer and try­ing to un­der­mine record­ings by crime in­tel­li­gence.

Po­lice spokesper­son Bri­gadier Hang­wani Mu­laudzi re­fused to dis­cuss any changes in the po­lice man­age­ment, say­ing these were in­ter­nal mat­ters.

IN THE BAL­ANCE Lieu­tenant Gen­eral Mma­mon­nye Ngob­eni

IN THE BAL­ANCE Lieu­tenant Gen­eral

Khehla Sit­hole

IN THE BAL­ANCE Lieu­tenant Gen­eral

Le­setja Moth­iba

IN THE BAL­ANCE Vi­neshku­mar Moonoo

RE­SOLVED Gen­eral Riah Phiyega

SUS­PENDED Solomon Mak­gale

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