The snake that eats other snakes

As­pi­rant in­spec­tor gen­eral of in­tel­li­gence Setl­homa­maru Isaac Din­twe im­presses MPs with his slew of aca­demic achieve­ments

CityPress - - News -

He de­scribes him­self as a cock­tail – an “allin-one” – when it comes to mat­ters deal­ing with South Africa’s crim­i­nal jus­tice sys­tem. And he told MPs that to ex­cel at his new job he would have to be­come “the snake that eats other snakes”. MPs were bowled over, not only by Setl­homa­maru Isaac Din­twe’s colour­ful lan­guage, but by his very im­pres­sive CV, with strong qual­i­fi­ca­tions.

Din­twe is set to be­come the coun­try’s new in­spec­tor gen­eral of in­tel­li­gence, af­ter 75% of the Na­tional Assem­bly’s MPs en­dorsed his name this week. An in­spec­tor gen­eral of in­tel­li­gence is the over­seer of South Africa’s spies, the man the pub­lic goes to with their spyre­lated com­plaints.

The level of sup­port he re­ceived from MPs is sig­nif­i­cant, con­sid­er­ing that on two oc­ca­sions the op­po­si­tion (through walk­outs) and ANC MPs (through a stay­away from Par­lia­ment) frus­trated the process of ap­prov­ing for­mer ANC MP Ce­cil Burgess’ can­di­dacy.

Din­twe is a 40 years old and head of the po­lice prac­tice de­part­ment of the Col­lege of Law at the Uni­ver­sity of SA (Unisa).

He has never mar­ried. He de­clared this in his CV. He pre­vi­ously worked at the In­de­pen­dent Po­lice In­ves­tiga­tive Direc­torate (Ipid) and has an il­lus­tri­ous ca­reer in the South African po­lice ser­vice, in­clud­ing be­ing a lec­turer at the School of Crim­i­nal Jus­tice at Unisa.

Din­twe was the last can­di­date to be in­ter­viewed on Novem­ber 8, the first day of a two-day in­ter­view process held in Par­lia­ment. But de­spite the long wait – over eight hours in a small room – he was sprightly when he fi­nally faced MPs. In turn, MPs were im­pressed by his pos­i­tive en­ergy and con­fi­dence. He told them that to do the job of an in­spec­tor gen­eral of in­tel­li­gence well, one had to be a hunter who hunted other hunters. “The role of the over­sight of­fi­cer is that you have to be­come a snake that eats the other snakes. That is the role of the in­spec­tor gen­eral of in­tel­li­gence,” he said. Din­twe, from Pre­to­ria, has a long his­tory in the po­lice. He is a doc­tor in po­lice sci­ence, spe­cial­is­ing in foren­sic in­ves­ti­ga­tions, a de­gree he ob­tained from Unisa. He has a string of other polic­ing-re­lated qual­i­fi­ca­tions, in­clud­ing a Bach­e­lor’s in crim­i­nal jus­tice (from North-West Uni­ver­sity), a Bach­e­lor’s in tech­nol­ogy of polic­ing (Tech­nikon South Africa) and a mas­ter’s de­gree in tech­nol­ogy of foren­sic in­ves­ti­ga­tions. He is a pub­lished au­thor, and has worked as a con­sta­ble, a de­tec­tive and an anti-cor­rup­tion in­ves­ti­ga­tor. He told MPs he was an ex­pert in foren­sic in­ves­ti­ga­tions. “I am com­pe­tent for this of­fice. I’m a cock­tail, all in one. My ca­reer goes across all dif­fer­ent spheres ... in­volved in any­thing which deals with the crim­i­nal jus­tice sys­tem in this coun­try,” he said. Among the chal­lenges await­ing Din­twe are fi­nal­i­sa­tion and re­lease of re­ports into in­ves­ti­ga­tions by the of­fice, fight­ing le­gal bat­tles that have been launched due to the fail­ure to by An­disiwe Mak­i­nana fi­nalise and re­lease the re­ports, and fill­ing va­cant posts that could not be filled since March 2015. Th­ese were some of the prob­lems re­vealed by se­nior staff mem­bers who were in­ter­viewed by Par­lia­ment for the in­spec­tor gen­eral po­si­tion. The joint stand­ing com­mit­tee on in­tel­li­gence an­nounced last week that there had been una­nim­ity in the com­mit­tee that Din­twe had done the best dur­ing the in­ter­views. This week, all the par­ties in the Na­tional Assem­bly bar the EFF sup­ported his can­di­dacy. The DA al­ready has a list of com­plaints lined up for his of­fice: the al­leged politi­ci­sa­tion of the spooks; the ap­point­ment of the in­tel­li­gence di­rec­tor-gen­eral, Arthur Fraser, de­spite a che­quered past; and the re­la­tion­ship be­tween Min­is­ter David Mahlobo and a rhino-horn ped­lar. It emerged last week that Din­twe, as an ex­pert in po­lice mat­ters, had sub­mit­ted a court af­fi­davit in the le­gal bat­tle be­tween Po­lice Min­is­ter Nathi Nh­leko and Robert McBride, the head of Ipid, in which he backed the min­is­ter’s failed bid to re­move McBride as head of the watch­dog body. Din­twe ar­gued there was a need for ex­ec­u­tive au­thor­ity over Ipid and a case for it to have lim­ited in­de­pen­dence, as it pur­sued the same ob­jec­tives as the po­lice.

Setl­homa­maru Isaac Din­twe

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