Mbalula tight­ens his grip on po­lice in­tel­li­gence unit

Di­rec­tive beefs up ca­pac­ity to spy on cit­i­zens Im­poses tighter con­trol on R700m slush fund

Business Day - - FRONT PAGE - Stephan Hof­s­tat­ter

Po­lice Min­is­ter Fik­ile Mbalula has or­dered a huge shake-up at the South African Po­lice Ser­vices’ (SAPS’s) crime in­tel­li­gence divi­sion.

Busi­ness Day has seen a di­rec­tive sent by Mbalula on Septem­ber 12 to newly ap­pointed act­ing head of crime in­tel­li­gence, Maj-Gen King Ng­cobo, which in­sti­tutes sweep­ing changes, tight­ens his grip on the divi­sion and beefs up its ca­pac­ity to spy on cit­i­zens.

The di­rec­tive im­poses tighter min­is­te­rial con­trol on its R700m slush fund that of­ten faces al­le­ga­tions of be­ing looted or used to fight fac­tional po­lit­i­cal bat­tles.

Sources at crime in­tel­li­gence, who can­not be named be­cause they are not au­tho­rised to talk to the me­dia, said the spy divi­sion’s top brass had met this week to im­ple­ment the changes. This in­cluded sus­pend­ing slush fund chief Maj-Gen Obed Ne­mu­tanzhela on Mon­day and re­scind­ing the pro­mo­tion of Col Feroze Khan, who had al­legedly been ap­pointed ir­reg­u­larly to the rank of ma­jor-gen­eral in charge of sur­veil­lance.

Po­lice spokes­woman Sally de Beer de­clined to com­ment on the sus­pen­sion and re­ferred ques­tions to Mbalula.

Mbalula con­firmed he had sent a di­rec­tive to Ng­cobo to re­move “those peo­ple who use state re­sources for things other than for the safety of our peo­ple”, his spokesman Vuyo Mhaga said. He de­nied purg­ing sup­port­ers of former crime in­tel­li­gence head Richard Md­luli, to re­place them with of­fi­cials loyal to him. “The min­is­ter is not in the busi­ness of purg­ing any­body,” Mhaga said.

In his di­rec­tive, Mbalula stresses the need to rid the divi­sion of rogue spies. “In­tel­li­gence in­for­ma­tion is not to be used for

po­lit­i­cal rea­sons, black­mail or other ne­far­i­ous witch-hunt­ing against any other cit­i­zen,” or po­lit­i­cal party, he said.

The sources said they wel­comed Mbalula’s ef­forts to clean up the divi­sion, but warned that his di­rec­tive was also aimed at en­sur­ing his loy­al­ists were in con­trol at the ANC elec­tive con­fer­ence in De­cem­ber.

“This hap­pened in 2012, but this is more like 2007,” said one, re­fer­ring to the ANC con­fer­ence in Polok­wane that led to Thabo Mbeki’s re­moval as pres­i­dent. “It’s all part of the same game.”

Mbalula is said to be clear­ing out a group of agents loyal to Md­luli, who has been on sus­pen­sion for six years.

“Md­luli is still call­ing the shots,” said one source. “But if you want to get rogue el­e­ments out of CI [crime in­tel­li­gence] you must first ap­point a per­ma­nent na­tional and di­vi­sional com­mis­sioner. He hasn’t done that.”

Md­luli could not be reached for com­ment.

Mbalula wants crime in­tel­li­gence to “en­hance its data min­ing of all cit­i­zens and res­i­dents in SA”. His di­rec­tive stresses that crime in­tel­li­gence has to be de­politi­cised and abide by the Con­sti­tu­tion to re­store pub­lic trust. “We are aware the in­tel­li­gence machin­ery can abuse its pow­ers and in­fringe on rights with­out good cause, or un­law­fully interfere in law­ful pol­i­tics and favour or prej­u­dice [one] politi­cian against the other…”

But the re­forms grant new pow­ers to the min­is­ter that are likely to prove con­tro­ver­sial. He wants to be sup­plied with a bud­get anal­y­sis for 2017 that is aligned with his di­rec­tives. He also di­rected Ng­cobo to sup­ply an au­dit of all reg­is­tered and un­reg­is­tered in­tel­li­gence op­er­a­tions, in­clud­ing their cost and for le­gal ad­vice to be sought on ap­proval of covert op­er­a­tions.

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