Peace officers’ criminal pasts

2010-07-20 00:00

SEVEN former bodyguards out of 10 people employed as peace officers in the Msunduzi Municipality’s planning section have criminal records or have had brushes with the law. Two are former members of a notorious gang — the Cash Money Brothers — that operated in the Eastwood area.

Questions are being asked about how they got these jobs, which were never advertised, and why no security checks were carried out.

The Witness also learned that none of the officers disclosed their previous convictions in their job applications.

An investigation and review of past media reports revealed the following:

• Sipho Zondi: found guilty of drunk driving in Scottburgh, and again in Pietermaritzburg (both cases were in 2007).

• Nathi Mdladla: found guilty of assault in Amanzimtoti in 1987.

• Justice Mthembu: no driver’s licence and reckless and negligent driving, Pietermaritzburg (1991). Guilty of reckless and negligent driving, Wartburg (1996). Guilty of attempted murder, Pietermaritzburg (2005).

• Shane Patchay: guilty of theft, Pietermaritzburg (1990). There are several past newspaper reports that describe Patchay as a member of the Cash Money Brothers. He was also a bodyguard to slain Richmond warlord Sifiso ­Nkabinde.

Patchay was charged with the murder of five ANC members, including two councillors, in July 1997. The order for the murders allegedly came from Nkabinde, who had been expelled by the ANC. Patchay was acquitted of the charges in May 1998.

However, by July 1998 he was once more in court with two alleged members of the Cash Money Brothers on charges of murder, illegal possession of a firearm and ammunition for the alleged killing of Eastwood resident Andrew Joseph in 1996. The hearing started while he was in jail awaiting trial in connection with the Richmond killings. He was acquitted. In 2003 he was charged with the attempted murder of Garth Donnely. The charges

were later withdrawn. By 2005 he was charged with the murder of Kevin Johnson, also of Eastwood, but charges were dropped due to insufficient evidence.

• Marvin McDonald: charged with the murder of Woodlands resident Donovan Hammero in 2007. The case was withdrawn. He was also alleged to be a member of the Cash Money Brothers.

• Buhle Nqunqa: in 2009 he was found guilty of drunk driving in Pietermaritzburg. In 2002 he was handed an assault conviction. In 1997 there was a conviction for attempting to escape. In 1994 he was found guilty in Richards Bay of unauthorised possession of a cannon, recoilless cannon or mortar rocket launcher and a machine gun. He was also found guilty of attempted murder. In 1988 he was found guilty of malicious damage to property.

• Vusimuzi Dladla: in 2004 he was charged with robbery, but the case was withdrawn.

Of the remaining three peace officers, one is alleged to have got the job because he attends the same church as a senior official and belongs to the same prayer cell.

The men were employed towards the end of October 2008 for a three-month period.

Their contracts were extended for a further two months and they were then given fixed-term contracts.

It is alleged that they earn salaries in the region of R13 800 a month and as part of their job description as peace officers they have access to municipal vehicles.

Insiders say the planning section was ordered to take on the men as staff members and an investigation needs to be carried out on how they were employed.

According to municipal sources, there are a further 10 to 12 bodyguards who are being put out to pasture and there are attempts to get them jobs within the municipality.

However, departments like planning, licensing and traffic and security are reluctant to take them on and they have been moved from one department to another.

City administrator Johann Mettler was asked about the employment of former the bodyguards. He responded:

“A preliminary investigation has yielded the following:

“• The incumbents were employed as peace officers.

“• They have entered into fixed-term contracts with the municipality, which terminate on June 30, 2011.

“• None of them has disclosed any previous convictions in his application documentation.

“If it is found that any of these employees do indeed have prior criminal convictions, the non-disclosure will be regarded as material and I shall accordingly move with the appropriate swiftness to have their contracts terminated.

“This investigation has commenced and I will gladly receive any information which may assist herein.

“I shall also investigate the circumstances surrounding their employment with a view to establishing how persons could be employed as peace officers when their character and background would have rendered them totally unsuitable for the post,” Mettler added.

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