Phiyega allies take Nhleko to court
Two suspended senior police officers are dragging acting police commissioner Lieutenant General Johannes Phahlane and Police Minister Nathi Nhleko to court over what they call “unfair labour practices”.
The two, former national police spokesperson Lieutenant General Solomon Makgale and deputy commissioner Nobubele Mbekela, launched an urgent application in the Johannesburg Labour Court on Thursday, seeking to have their suspensions set aside.
Makgale and Mbekela state in their joint court application that the decision to have them suspended was made with “ulterior motives” in mind, and that they were sidelined because of their closeness to suspended police commissioner Riah Phiyega.
In a founding affidavit by Mbekela, a copy of which City Press has obtained, she says she and Makgale were “directed to hand over our ... cellphones, laptop computers and our certificates of appointment”. “All the above items are necessary for the preparation of ensuing disciplinary hearings. Our rights to a fair hearing process will be undermined if [they] are taken away from us,” she wrote.
She also claimed that Phahlane’s reasons for suspending her went against the police’s internal disciplinary regulations.
Mbekela wrote in court papers that prior to her suspension, Phahlane offered her an early exit package but later reneged on the offer. Makgale and Mbekela also stated in their submissions that the draft report by parliament’s portfolio committee on police – about them drumming up support for Phiyega, for which they were suspended – was already being challenged by Phiyega.
The two have given both Phahlane and Nhleko until the end of next week to file opposing papers, failing which, the matter will be heard on December 23.
Makgale and Mbekela’s statements supporting Phiyega were made public in Parliament by several provincial commissioners when it became clear that Phiyega would face a board of inquiry into her fitness to hold office after the release of the Marikana Commission of Inquiry report.
Mbekela faced additional charges of improper conduct after she said 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.
Police spokesperson Brigadier Hangwani Mulaudzi refused to discuss any changes in the police’s management structure, saying these were internal matters.
– Abram Mashego