KZN top cop Ngobeni pleads with court to lift suspension

2016-06-14 23:00

Lieutenant General Mmamonnye Ngobeni. (City Press)

Lieutenant General Mmamonnye Ngobeni. (City Press)

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Durban – In a bid to have her suspension lifted, suspended KwaZulu-Natal police commissioner Lieutenant General Mmamonnye Ngobeni appeared at the Durban High Court to state reasons why she should be allowed to go back to work.

News24 previously reported that Ngobeni was served with a notice of intention to suspend her by Acting National Police Commissioner Kgomotso Phahlane in May. She was placed on suspension on May 19. 

Her suspension relates to her links to Durban businessman Thoshan Panday and his associates, who reportedly paid nearly R20 000 for her husband Lucas' birthday party in 2010.

The bash, thrown by Panday, came at a time when the controversial businessman was a suspect in a fraud investigation.

The National Prosecuting Authority had declined to prosecute the province's top cop.

Although judgement in the case was reserved on Tuesday, Ngobeni's advocate, Greg Harpur, argued that if the suspension stands, then she would be forced to stay at home.

'No need for urgent suspension'

"This means that she won't be able to perform her duties and her dignity will be impaired. Anyone who acts on her behalf will have to be paid and the police will have to pay two people and that is not financially viable."

Harpur said someone would have to be trained to take over her position.

He also said there was no urgency to suspend the commissioner, who had carried out her duties well in the last six years.

Harpur said setting up a board of inquiry to thoroughly look at the matter would take long and keep Ngobeni from her work for a longer period.

He also said there was nothing new in the allegations which surfaced six years ago and that the suspension should be set aside.

But Advocate Tembeka Ngcukaitobi, representing National Police Commissioner Khomotso Phahlane said the application should be dismissed and that all the reasons Ngobeni had stated were irrelevant.

Neutral witness

Ngcukaitobi said Ngobeni should remain on suspension because there was prima facie evidence of gross misconduct.

Ngcukaitobi read out a statement from a Mr Singh who admitted that Panday paid for the birthday.

He said Mr Singh is "a neutral person not supporting Ngobeni or the national commissioner" and is the owner of The Dish. In his statement, he said that Thoshan Panday visited him and paid for the function.

Ngcukaitobi said there were bank statements and credit card payments from Panday’s Diners Club International card.

"This proves that the birthday was paid for by Mr Panday. Ngobeni said she paid Panday to facilitate the party. She said Panday did not pay for her husband's party. This is false because there was no evidence to prove that she paid for the party."

Ngcukaitobi said there was no evidence attached to Ngobeni's affidavit and he was certain that if there was proof, in the form of receipts or bank statements, she would have attached them. 

He said Ngobeni's personal assistant also gave a statement but she did not prove that Ngobeni paid for the party.

"The best evidence here would have to be bank statements to prove who paid. She did not prove [that] in 2011 and in 2016 and that is why commissioner Phahlane said she should explain before a commission what really happened."

Public interest

He said there was also evidence that she had ordered KZN Hawks boss Johan Booysen to stop investigating who paid for her husband's party.

Ngcukaitobi said even suspended national police commissioner Riah Phiyega investigated the allegations but she did not conclude the investigation as she was suspended.

He said Ngobeni had given feeble reasons why she should return to work.

"Whether she has performed well or not, is irrelevant… she must answer the allegations. The fact that someone else will be paid to act is also irrelevant.

"Is it in the public interest to have a senior police officer remain in office while being investigated for serious allegations? We believe it's against it. She is just worried about her reputation.

"Many people have been hard done in the past, the issue of reputation is irrelevant."

He said provincial police commissioners were accountable to the national police commissioner and Ngobeni had to finally answer to the allegations.

Read more on:    mmamonnye ngobeni  |  durban  |  police

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