Friday, April 27, 2012

Acting Police Commisioner to be Probed

Top cop to be probed for ‘abuse of power’


IOL Nhlanhla Mkhwanazi apr 26
Nhlanhla Mkhwanazi

Acting police commissioner Nhlanhla Mkhwanazi faces an investigation into allegations of improper conduct and abuse of power. This comes after Public Protector Thuli Madonsela agreed to look into a complaint lodged by DA MP Dianne Kohler Barnard last month.
In a letter to Kohler Barnard dated April 12, Madonsela wrote that her preliminary assessment had determined “there is a prima facie case of improper conduct and abuse of power which warrants an investigation”.
The case had been handed to her office’s good governance and integrity unit for further action.
Mkhwanazi, appointed by President Jacob Zuma in October, has now become the third police commissioner in a row to face serious allegations of one form or another.
Disgraced former commissioner Jackie Selebi is serving 15 years in jail after he was convicted of receiving corrupt payments from convicted drug trafficker Glen Agliotti.
His replacement, General Bheki Cele – appointed by Zuma in 2009 – is now suspended, pending an inquiry into his fitness for office after a public protector investigation implicated him in the police’s R1.7 billion office leasing scandal.
The Mkhwanazi investigation is in response to the DA’s claim that the general was an “accomplice to a murder case” and had obstructed justice by “failing to co-operate in the (resulting) investigation”.
He allegedly also failed “to investigate the misappropriation of millions of rands” from the police’s controversial crime intelligence division (CID) slush fund.
Kohler Barnard claims to be in possession of nine affidavits from police officers who attended a meeting addressed by Mkhwanazi on March 5. There he is alleged to have told fellow officers that he once witnessed a suspect being shot and killed by the police, but that such incidents were not always reported.
In one sworn affidavit, an unidentified police officer alleges: “He (Mkhwanazi) was also involved in a shooting incident, where an innocent person was killed. He was requested to make a statement, but refused. He said he’d go to his grave with the information,” unless called to testify before a commission of inquiry.
Mkhwanazi has said through his spokesman, Lindela Mashigo, that he would “account to the (public protector’s) probe” if it went ahead. Mkhwanazi could not be reached for comment on Wednesday.
However, the acting commissioner told MPs last week that he planned to take his accusers to court.
The top cop went on to explain his version of the March 5 conversation with fellow officers.
As an “example”, he recounted how, during his time at the police task force, his job was to “neutralise threats” posed by dangerous criminals. He said he would be called to arrest dangerous suspects and would hand them over – handcuffed – to detectives. “Now, when I walk away, the next thing I hear gunshots. When I go back to investigate… the very same detective will tell you this (suspect) was trying to shoot me and I was defending myself. It’s a serious concern.”
But the police chief did not clarify whether he was speaking metaphorically or had personally witnessed such shootings. This will form part of Madonsela’s probe.
The slush fund allegations relate to an internal police investigation which found that crime intelligence boss, Lieutenant-General Richard Mdluli, may have plundered the police’s secret fund of up to R5 million for his and his family’s benefit

Last week Mkhwanazi told MPs he had recently been told by “powers beyond us” which matters he and his officers may or may not investigate. He later said he was not implying political interference.

Siphoning off R40 billion

Public servants have illegally received more than R40.8 billion in fraudulent social grant claims between August 2009 and December 2011.

This was revealed in an answer to a parliamentary question from the Democratic Alliance (DA) by Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini on Thursday.

The money lost through social grant fraud by public servants could have paid 145,875 child support grants.

The Department of Social Development confirmed last week that the Special Investigating Unit had found 25,255 cases of social grant fraud by public officials since the inception of the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) in 2005.

"It is clear that this type of corruption has become endemic and that we need urgent intervention by the Department," Mike Walters, DA spokesperson.

A reply to a DA parliamentary question received from the Department of Social Development in March this year confirmed that 80% of staff members employed by SASSA have not been properly vetted.
"We will continue to push for the names and positions of public servants involved in social grant fraud. It may very well be that the individuals involved are in senior positions and have significant influence over the system and databases," Walters said.