MPs note no love lost between SA’s top cops

2012-04-19 00:00

CAPE TOWN — Tension between MPs and the police’s top brass relating to the R2,3-billion crime intelligence budget, including a secret slush fund, nearly reached breaking point in Parliament yesterday.

At one stage Sindi Chikunga (ANC), the National Assembly’s safety and security committee chairperson, warned acting national police commissioner Nhlanhla Mkhwanazi that the committee could refuse to approve the unit’s budget if he continued to be obstructive.

The unit’s secret fund has been in the news recently, because of its alleged abuse by crime intelligence boss Richard Mdluli, among others.

This includes buying a holiday resort on the KZN North Coast for the alleged use of the unit’s top officers.

Mdluli, whose suspension as crime intelligence head was lifted in March under controversial circumstances, was also present during yesterday’s committee meeting, but appeared to be in the dog box with Mkhwanazi.

Last month City Press reported that Mkhwanazi had threatened to resign after he was forced to reinstate Mdluli and yesterday there appeared substance to the reports.

Unlike other police departmental heads, Mdluli was not allowed to make a presentation to MPs, while Mkhwanazi prevented him from replying to questions,

At one stage an eager Mdluli was spotted raising his hand as though wanting to reply to MPs’ questions, but was ignored by Mkhwanazi. He even ignored a direct request by KZN DA MP Dianne Kohler-Barnard for Mdluli to respond instead.

Some of the crime intelligence budget is spent on personnel, vehicles, fuel and accommodation, but part of it is also used for secret operations.

This includes the so-called slush fund, for which the police account to the joint standing committee on intelligence instead of Chikunga’s committee.

Mkhwanazi said later he could not say which part of the fund he was supposed to report on to the police and which to intelligence.

“I think the fund in its entirety should be placed under the intelligence fund,” he said.

This did not find favour with Chikunga and other MPs. Among the questions that riled Mkhwanazi was one from Kohler-Barnard about how the police knew that the R2,3 billion for crime intelligence contributed to solving crime, given that no targets or performance indicators were listed for that programme.

ANC MP Annelise van Wyk agreed, saying a better yardstick was needed.

Van Wyk noted that there had been service delivery protests, xenophobic attacks and communities taking the law into their own hands, without crime intelligence having known about it beforehand.

According to the police’s documents there were 23 000 intelligence reports in the past financial year, but what were they worth? she asked.

Mkhwanazi replied to Kohler-Barnard by saying that members should be consistent with the questions they asked. The same questions were not asked earlier in the day, for example, about visible policing,

Kohler-Barnard took exception to Mkhwanazi treating her like an underling. “I do not need a scolding from a member of the SAPS.”

Although Chikunga tired to mediate, Kohler-Barnard was on a roll, pointing out that she had been an MP for eight years, while Mkhwanazi had been an acting commissioner for a few months and would be gone in a few more.

She could ask any question she wanted to, Kohler-Barnard declared.

Last night, Kohler-Barnard said she had never seen anything like it. All the police’s programme heads had made presentations, but Mkhwanazi had not allowed Mdluli to do so.

Relations between the two were patently strained.

“It is inconceivable that they can work together,” she told The Witness. Kohler-Barnard has previously asked the Public Protector to investigate Mdluli’s reinstatement.

Earlier this week, Mkhwanazi reportedly told MPs that there was still an ongoing investigation into allegations of fraud against Mdluli.

Murder charges against Mdluli were dropped earlier and an inquest was opened into the death of a former girlfriend’s lover, leading to his reinstatement as crime intelligence chief last month.

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