Count­ing his bless­ings

CityPress - - News - POLOKO TAU poloko.tau@city­press.co.za

A day af­ter his ap­point­ment by Jo­han­nes­burg mayor Her­man Mashaba as chief cor­rup­tion buster for the City of Joburg, for­mer Gaut­eng Hawks head Shadrack Sibiya is count­ing his bless­ings.

Sit­ting with his arms out­stretched on a de­signer couch at his home in Cen­tu­rion in Gaut­eng, he says: “I had been ruled out as a dis­graced law en­force­ment of­fi­cer, but this new op­por­tu­nity is giv­ing me an­other life­line to do what I do best.”

As he takes up his new po­si­tion, charges of kid­nap­ping, de­feat­ing the ends of jus­tice and con­tra­ven­ing the Im­mi­gra­tion Act con­tinue to dan­gle over his head – all of them re­lat­ing to the il­le­gal ren­di­tion of five Zim­bab­weans in 2010.

Sibiya was fired fol­low­ing a dis­ci­plinary hear­ing in a case that also cost his boss, for­mer na­tional Hawks head Anwa Dra­mat, his job.

He de­clines to com­ment too much on the case, ex­cept to say he has “noth­ing to worry about”.

“Every­body knows who did those il­le­gal ren­di­tions. I am in­no­cent and con­fi­dent that this is a dead mat­ter,” he adds.

“My con­science is clear that I am a clean law en­force­ment of­fi­cer. I know I will be vin­di­cated.”

Sibiya and his lawyers have claimed he was tar­geted be­cause of his in­volve­ment in the in­ves­ti­ga­tion and ar­rest of for­mer crime in­tel­li­gence head Richard Md­luli.

If it is a cor­rup­tion in­ves­ti­ga­tor they want, the City of Joburg may just have the right man. Al­though he would nei­ther con­firm nor deny it, City Press un­der­stands Sibiya was in­volved in the in­ves­ti­ga­tion into for­mer North­ern Cape ANC chair­per­son John Block, who was ar­rested on cor­rup­tion and money laun­der­ing charges last year.

And while at the Scor­pi­ons in 2005, Sibiya was in­stru­men­tal in the in­ves­ti­ga­tion and mass ar­rests of of­fi­cials in Man­gaung mu­nic­i­pal­ity – in­clud­ing the mayor and speaker – on cor­rup­tion charges.

Al­though he be­lieves he has been the tar­get of a po­lit­i­cally mo­ti­vated pros­e­cu­tion, Sibiya in­sists he will not be used to fight po­lit­i­cal bat­tles and be ex­pected to dig dirt on Jo­han­nes­burg’s for­mer ANC-led coun­cil.

“I am a pro­fes­sional in­ves­tiga­tive law en­force­ment of­fi­cer and can­not in­volve my­self in any ac­tive pol­i­tics,” he says.

“I have ar­rested many peo­ple in my ca­reer, some of whom were highly re­garded in po­lit­i­cal cir­cles. That did not mean any­thing to me, but the law does. I am not a politi­cian – and not the kind of per­son to be used as a po­lit­i­cal sniper to set­tle po­lit­i­cal scores.

“The mayor said he wanted this unit to op­er­ate in­de­pen­dently, and he is talk­ing my lan­guage right there.” Sibiya says he has al­ready re­ceived a num­ber of files to work on. “I will cre­ate a whis­tle-blower plat­form and any­one with in­for­ma­tion about any­body is wel­come to test me,” he says.

“I am go­ing to pri­ori­tise cases not ac­cord­ing to who is in­volved, whether a politi­cian or not. Pub­lic money ap­pears to be stolen on a daily ba­sis, so I do not see how I will pri­ori­tise a 2010 case over a re­cent or on­go­ing crime.”

Sibiya adds that he was “deeply dis­ap­pointed” af­ter los­ing his job late last year, af­ter more than 20 years in law en­force­ment. He be­gan as an ad­min­is­tra­tion clerk and court in­ter­preter, and be­came a po­lice­man in 1987. He rose through the ranks and joined the Scor­pi­ons in 2001 as a se­nior in­ves­ti­ga­tor, be­fore be­ing ap­pointed to lead the Gaut­eng Hawks.

“I grew up in the po­lice ser­vice. I worked hard to fight crime and, while at it, I found my­self in trou­ble be­cause I did my work ... I lost money fight­ing these bat­tles. For them [his ac­cusers], it has been pain­less be­cause they are us­ing state money [to go to court].”

At a press con­fer­ence on Wed­nes­day, Mashaba said it was his “no fear or favour ap­proach that has re­sulted in the vic­tim­i­sa­tion that Mr Sibiya, like so many oth­ers, has ex­pe­ri­enced for do­ing his job”.

Mashaba has asked Sibiya to re­visit old in­ves­ti­ga­tions con­ducted by the city “to en­sure that find­ings were cor­rect and car­ried out to the let­ter”. He has also been tasked with in­ves­ti­gat­ing “any ten­ders that have been awarded to rel­a­tives of peo­ple work­ing for the city, or em­ploy­ees or pub­lic rep­re­sen­ta­tives them­selves”.

Shadrack Sibiya

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