Nh­leko’s R30m bless­ing

Po­lice min­is­ter im­pli­cated for sign­ing off mil­lions of rands for work done by his love in­ter­est – and for go­ing all out to re­in­state charges against Ipid head Robert McBride

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

Po­lice Min­is­ter Nathi Nh­leko’s girl­friend, Nom­cebo Mthembu, has al­legedly scored more than R30 mil­lion for pro­vid­ing ser­vices which po­lice min­istry of­fi­cials claim they could have re­ceived for free. Two doc­u­ments de­tail­ing cost break­downs, as well as a series of emails, have been ob­tained by City Press from of­fi­cials in the po­lice min­istry. They re­veal Mthembu’s non­govern­men­tal or­gan­i­sa­tion (NGO) charged more than R30.8 mil­lion for six months’ work, start­ing in April last year.

One, a “mass com­mu­nity im­ple­men­ta­tion plan” to pro­duce “185 000 peer ed­u­ca­tors”, to­talled R28.09 mil­lion.

The other job, aimed at “pro­duc­ing 6 000 peer ed­u­ca­tors”, to­talled R2.74 mil­lion.

The or­gan­i­sa­tion, called In­doni, or­gan­ised work­shops and cul­tural events to com­bat xeno­pho­bia, fol­low­ing an out­break of vi­o­lence in KwaZu­luNatal and Gaut­eng last year.

On its web­site, In­doni states that it sets up pro­grammes aimed at bring­ing about cul­tural aware­ness and so­cial co­he­sion through ad­dress­ing so­cial ills.

In one of the re­cently sent emails, a min­istry of­fi­cial – whose iden­tity City Press is with­hold­ing – claims that Nh­leko’s We Are One Hu­man­ity cam­paign against xeno­pho­bia was a money-spin­ner.

The email goes on to state that Nh­leko did not put the cam­paign out to ten­der, de­spite mis­giv­ings ex­pressed by min­istry of­fi­cials. “Here the min­is­ter is work­ing with Nom­cebo and her team on the We Are Africa pro­posal on April 17 2015, be­fore it was sub­mit­ted for con­sid­er­a­tion. He held a press brief­ing [on] Sun­day, April 19, launch­ing the cam­paign and an­nounc­ing them [In­doni] as the ser­vice providers be­fore the mat­ter went out to ten­der,” the of­fi­cial says.

The emails also claim that min­istry staff re­sisted Nh­leko’s ap­point­ment of In­doni and were forced to pay Mthembu for the launch, be­cause the event took place and In­doni had printed ma­te­rial for the oc­ca­sion – af­ter get­ting “di­rect ap­proval from the min­is­ter”.

In the emails, the staff also ques­tion why the min­istry had to hold such an event, given that one had al­ready been pro­posed by the de­part­ment of arts and cul­ture: “Even the choice of theme – We are Africa – had to be changed to We are One Hu­man­ity. And they wanted us to pay mil­lions for it,” one email reads.

An­other of­fi­cial wrote: “We got some NGOs to do it for un­der R200 000, and oth­ers do to it for free.”

An­other email refers to Nh­leko’s al­leged re­solve to give Mthembu the con­tract. “I even recorded the meet­ing where the min­is­ter tried to force the head of events, the act­ing chief fi­nan­cial of­fi­cer ... to give her [Mthembu] the con­tract. Pity I deleted it. Eish.”

Nh­leko’s spokesper­son, Sandile Ngidi, said yes­ter­day: “The min­is­ter finds the al­le­ga­tions City Press is mak­ing quite se­ri­ous and dis­turb­ing. Min­is­ter Nh­leko is com­mit­ted to a clean, trans­par­ent and ac­count­able ad­min­is­tra­tion, and be­lieves that noth­ing un­to­ward has hap­pened.

“Al­le­ga­tions that the [sec­re­tariat] paid In­doni R30 mil­lion are un­true. There is no fund­ing con­tract be­tween the min­istry and In­doni. In­stead, there is a me­moran­dum of un­der­stand­ing be­tween the two en­ti­ties, which was signed be­fore Nh­leko was ap­pointed to head the po­lice min­istry.”

Ngidi added that the me­moran­dum “does not trans­late into a fund­ing ar­range­ment, nor a re­tainer agree­ment of any sort”, but “sim­ply es­tab­lishes an arm’s-length work­ing re­la­tion­ship be­tween the min­istry and In­doni that is project based”. “It is un­true that the Civil­ian Sec­re­tariat for Po­lice, whose an­nual bud­get is R111 mil­lion, paid Dr Mthembu or In­doni R30 mil­lion.” Mthembu de­clined to com­ment. How­ever, a break­down of costs In­doni sent to the min­istry – and which sev­eral min­istry of­fi­cials con­firmed were paid – re­veal the fol­low­ing, among other items, that In­doni charged for: R1.32 mil­lion for “pho­tog­ra­phers and videog­ra­phers”; R321 000 for “paint and stick­ers”; R1.2 mil­lion for “cre­ative ma­te­ri­als” at R500 a child; and R1.83 mil­lion on “pro­gramme ad­min­is­tra­tion costs, in­clud­ing hu­man re­sources”. In­doni’s web­site lists the po­lice sec­re­tariat and the de­part­ment of arts and cul­ture among its part­ners, along­side other pub­lic en­ti­ties.

Ngidi re­fused to com­ment on whether Mthembu was Nh­leko’s wife or girl­friend, say­ing: “This is none of your busi­ness, Sir.”

Asked if Mthembu used her re­la­tion­ship with the min­is­ter to se­cure the fund­ing, he said: “Ab­so­lutely not.”

In re­sponse to whether po­lice min­istry staff were forced to use In­doni’s ser­vices, Ngidi said: “We are not aware of this al­le­ga­tion and do not be­lieve it is true.”

The me­moran­dum of un­der­stand­ing be­tween the min­istry and In­doni ex­pires in May 2017.

“The min­is­ter finds the idea that there is con­flict of in­ter­est to be mis­placed,” Ngidi added.

“In­doni has been paid R410 000 in the cur­rent fi­nan­cial year. This money was not paid in cash to In­doni or Dr Mthembu, but di­rectly cov­ered the ac­com­mo­da­tion and travel costs for young girls who par­tic­i­pated in In­doni’s em­pow­er­ment and char­ac­ter-build­ing boot camps.

“At the core of this ex­er­cise is the cam­paign to en­cour­age young peo­ple to be aware of the dan­gers of ben­e­fit­ting from stolen goods.”

EN­TER MCBRIDE

Mean­while, Nh­leko is fight­ing a bat­tle on an­other front – with Robert McBride. On Thurs­day, he again asked Par­lia­ment to es­tab­lish an in­quiry into the newly re­in­stated head of po­lice watch­dog the In­de­pen­dent Po­lice In­ves­tiga­tive Di­rec­torate (Ipid).

“Once this process has com­menced, I will be in a po­si­tion to sus­pend him for the al­leged mis­con­duct, and the pros­e­cu­tor will be in a po­si­tion to re­in­state the crim­i­nal charges against him,” Nh­leko said in a let­ter to Speaker Baleka Mbete, adding that he wanted the process to start as “soon as pos­si­ble”.

But doc­u­ments and au­dio record­ings in City Press’ pos­ses­sion re­veal that Nh­leko is pulling out all the stops to find any dirt on McBride – in­clud­ing get­ting the Hawks to re­open a case in­volv­ing the mur­der of an al­leged cash heist gang­ster while McBride was the head of Ekurhu­leni’s metro po­lice 10 years ago.

An af­fi­davit, writ­ten by a former metro po­lice­man, whose name is known to City Press, re­veals that on Novem­ber 7, three Hawks of­fi­cers – namely Brigadier Nyameka Xaba, who heads the Hawks’ crimes against the state unit; Lieu­tenant Colonel Manie Fourie; and a Colonel Vre­den­burg from the Lim­popo Hawks – ap­proached sev­eral former Ekurhu­leni metro po­lice of­fi­cers search­ing for in­crim­i­nat­ing in­for­ma­tion.

The af­fi­davit is backed up by recorded phone calls be­tween Hawks of­fi­cers and pos­si­ble wit­nesses.

One of the cases for which the Hawks in­tend to charge McBride is that of Marco Singh, an al­leged cash-in-tran­sit heist gang­ster, air­port rob­ber and po­lice crime in­tel­li­gence op­er­a­tive.

He was killed in a shoot-out with the Ekurhu­leni metro po­lice and his case was re­cently re­opened, al­legedly on Nh­leko’s in­struc­tion.

The Hawks have also re­opened old firearms-re­lated cases in which McBride was a sus­pect.

A wit­ness, who is now in hid­ing, wrote in his af­fi­davit that Xaba ap­proached him and told him “they want to deal with [McBride] once and for all”, and that three other of­fi­cers had al­ready made state­ments.

In a record­ing ob­tained by City Press, a Hawks de­tec­tive is heard say­ing the pri­or­ity crimes unit wanted to ob­tain a few more state­ments be­fore they could ar­rest McBride.

The wit­ness tes­ti­fied: “I asked him who gave in­struc­tion to re­open this case. He told me that the Hawks got in­struc­tions from the min­is­ter of po­lice.”

Ngidi, how­ever, de­nied the al­le­ga­tion. “The sug­ges­tion is non­sen­si­cal and un­true.

“Nev­er­the­less, the min­is­ter would pre­fer that the McBride mat­ter be left to the par­lia­men­tary process since the Speaker placed it on Par­lia­ment’s an­nounce­ments, tablings and com­mit­tee re­port, pub­lished on Fri­day.”

McBride said yes­ter­day: “I am aware of ev­ery move they make against me, right from the time it is first dis­cussed. On ev­ery is­sue. But I am un­per­turbed. The truth can­not be changed by smoke and mir­rors.”

FORMER IPID HEAD FACES FRAUD CHARGE

In yet an­other devel­op­ment, Nh­leko has trans­ferred former act­ing Ipid chief Is­rael Kga­manyane to head fi­nan­cial as­set for­fei­ture in­ves­ti­ga­tions at the Hawks, af­ter McBride re­sumed his job as Ipid head in Oc­to­ber.

Kga­manyane is now fac­ing fraud charges for al­legedly ir­reg­u­larly ap­point­ing Boniwe So­tyu, daugh­ter of Deputy Po­lice Min­is­ter Mag­gie So­tyu, as deputy di­rec­tor of in­ves­ti­ga­tions at Ipid’s Free State of­fice.

City Press re­ported last year that So­tyu was ap­pointed de­spite not hav­ing the ad­ver­tised qual­i­fi­ca­tions and ex­pe­ri­ence. She got the job ahead of two ex­pe­ri­enced in­ves­ti­ga­tors, one of whom had 22 years’ ex­pe­ri­ence.

Nh­leko wrote to McBride on Wed­nes­day, in­form­ing him of Kga­manyane’s trans­fer to the Hawks.

In Septem­ber, Kga­manyane wrote a glow­ing let­ter of rec­om­men­da­tion to act­ing Na­tional Po­lice Com­mis­sioner Kho­motso Phahlane, sup­port­ing Boniwe So­tyu’s ap­pli­ca­tion for a trans­fer to work as a po­lice clerk at the Bloem­fontein Po­lice Sta­tion.

Ngidi said Nh­leko acted within his pow­ers to trans­fer Kga­manyane. “In terms of sec­tion 14 of the Pub­lic Ser­vice Act, only the ex­ec­u­tive author­ity [the min­is­ter] in a de­part­ment can trans­fer staff within the de­part­ment or to an­other de­part­ment. In the case of Kga­manyane, the min­is­ter re­ceived the ap­pli­ca­tion and he con­sid­ered it in terms of this sec­tion,” he said.

“In the case of the deputy min­is­ter’s daugh­ter, Boniwe So­tyu, no trans­fer has been ef­fected yet.

“What we can con­firm is that Ms So­tyu has in­deed ap­plied for a trans­fer on grounds of ill health. Since her health can be wors­ened by too much trav­el­ling, as the Ipid job de­mands, she has ap­plied for an ad­min­is­tra­tive po­si­tion at the SA Po­lice Ser­vice in Bloem­fontein, in line with the Pub­lic Ser­vice Act.”

So­tyu wrote to McBride to seek his per­mis­sion for a trans­fer, but he has not yet re­sponded.

“In his ca­pac­ity as head of de­part­ment, the ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of Ipid re­serves the right to ap­prove or dis­ap­prove the trans­fer, but may not un­rea­son­ably dis­ap­prove it,” said Ngidi.

I am aware of ev­ery move they make against me .... But I am un­per­turbed. The truth can­not be changed by smoke and mir­rors ROBERT McBRIDE

PHOTO: JABULANI LANGA

LU­CRA­TIVE PART­NER­SHIP Po­lice Min­is­ter Nathi Nh­leko with In­doni founder Nom­cebo Mthembu

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