Top cop, sangoma and wet dog

2013-06-23 14:00

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Petros reportedly calls in investigative help from the spirit world.

Gauteng police chief Lieutenant General Mzwandile Petros has allegedly roped in a sangoma to investigate after a break-in at his Parktown, Johannesburg, office this week.

Captain Nomathemba Mgwebile, the sangoma who works as an executive secretary in Petros’ office, was brought in to “sniff out” those responsible for the burglary on Monday.

Petros’ office was broken into on the eve of Major General Tirhani Maswanganyi’s murder this week, but nothing was stolen from it.

The suspects dug a hole through the ceiling of one of the toilets and walked into the police chief’s office.

Three independent sources told City Press that Petros called Mgwebile to perform sangoma rituals in an attempt to identify those responsible for the incident.

Mgwebile, who is known as “Vumani Mahosi” and moved with Petros to Gauteng when he was appointed from the Western Cape in 2010, told a team of investiga-tors she smelt “the smell of a wet dog” in Petros’ office.

“But we don’t know what she meant by that. I think it’s sangoma language,” said a police officer with direct knowledge of the investigation.

The officer said Petros had refused to use his office since the incident as he suspected spy cameras were planted and his office line was bugged.

Detectives combed the entire office looking for any spy cameras, but found nothing.

“They did not find spy cameras and nothing was stolen from his office. They did not find fingerprints, but found footprints,” the officer said.

When the detectives reported to Petros that they did not find anything, the dog- and crime-intelligence units were summoned to the office.

Telkom officials were allegedly also called in to check whether Petros’ telephone line was bugged.

Investigators also questioned the security personnel guarding the building about the incident, who told them they believed it was an inside job.

The officer said: “This is what worried Petros, as everything points to an inside job. He is unpopular among many police officers and this justifies his suspicion that those opposed to him might be behind this incident – also because it happened a day before Maswanganyi’s murder.”

Speculation about Mgwebile doubling as Petros’ sangoma has been a hot topic of discussion among Gauteng police officers since his arrival in the province in 2010.

In 2011, the Sunday Times reported that Petros cancelled a crime-fighting strategy meeting attended by about 200 senior police officers after Mgwebile warned they were plotting against him.

Mgwebile allegedly arrived at the meeting, shouted “Vumani bo” (The ancestors are speaking) and knelt down.

Petros then ordered everyone to leave the boardroom, consulted with Mgwebile and told the officers the “spirits” had told Mgwebile that some of the generals and brigadiers were plotting to kill him. He then cancelled the meeting.

City Press understands that Mgwebile was called in to another meeting of senior police officers in recent months.

Petros’ spokesperson, Brigadier Neville Malila, didn’t respond to specific questions about Mgwebile’s role, her involvement in criminal investigations and whether part of her job is to advise Petros.

Referring to the Sunday Times article, Malila said: “It is not the first time that these allegations surfaced, and we thought it was dealt with before in 2011 and has been dealt with as there was no basis for the allegation.”

Malila confirmed that Petros’ office was broken into.

“The office can confirm that an office door was found open on Tuesday morning, June 18 2013, and, upon further investigation, footprints were found. As we are duty-bound to report incidents of this nature, it was reported.

“It is unknown if anything was taken. Investigations are under way,” said Malila.

Malila confirmed that Petros did not report for duty this week, but said it was because he was mourning Maswanganyi’s death.

He also denied that there was a link between the burglary and Maswanganyi’s murder.

“This office and the SA Police Service?.?.?.?are mourning the death of one of our most respected generals and there is no evidence or reason to suggest that there are linkages between this incident and the death of (Maswanganyi),” said Malila.

“The provincial commissioner was out of office for the better part of the week as he is mourning, not only the loss of a colleague but the loss of a relative.” – Additional reporting by Adriaan Basson

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