Minister in ‘love child’ claim

2016-01-28 14:16
Suspended KwaZulu-Natal Correctional Services head Mnikelwa Nxele outside the Durban Labour Court.

Suspended KwaZulu-Natal Correctional Services head Mnikelwa Nxele outside the Durban Labour Court. (Jonathan Erasmus, The Witness)

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Pietermaritzburg - The suspension of KwaZulu-Natal's Correctional Services head, Mnikelwa Nxele, has nothing to do with the fact that the Police Minister Nkosinathi Nhleko “may have a child” with a woman Nxele refused to reinstate.

In a bizarre twist to what initially appeared to be a breakdown in the relationship between Nxele and national commissioner Zacharia Modise, the matter has taken a turn towards accusations of sexual liaisons, dodgy tenders and kowtowing to political pressure.

Nxele was suspended last week for “gross insubordination as well as failure to implement instructions of the national office”.

On Wednesday he sought an urgent interdict to have the suspension overturned, claiming it was “illegal” and that it was an act of retaliation to stifle two probes by the Public Service Commission and Public Protector into “irregularities” in Modise’s office.

But the matter never made it into the court room, with Durban Labour Court Judge David Gush, in chambers, postponing the matter until March for argument on the proviso that no disciplinary action is taken against Nxele in the interim.

The Correctional Service Department’s answering affidavit filed with the court speaks of an alleged child Police Minister Nhleko, a former KZN regional commissioner of Correctional Services, has with Smangele Ngobese, a dismissed KZN Correctional Services director. She was fired in 2012 for failing to come to work for more than 30 consecutive days.

One of the reasons Nxele was suspended was his failure to reinstate Ngobese, who Modise felt had been fired unjustifiably.

Nxele believes Modise was under political pressure to reinstate Ngobese, an accusation the Correctional Services Department has denied.

Nxele also refused to participate in an interview panel to appoint candidates to senior provincial posts, claiming irregularities, and allegedly ignored “procurement … processes” in 2012.

Correctional Services legal advisor Mxolisi Zulu said Nxele had “personalised the issue”, but reiterated throughout that there was no basis for “urgent relief” as the “facts” Nxele had presented as his reason to have the suspension overturned lacked any merit.

“Whether the Minister of Police may have a child with Ms Ngobese was not and could not be the basis for her reinstatement,” he said.

The allegation of a relationship between Ngobese and Nhleko appears in letters submitted to both the Public Service Commission and Public Protector in November 2015, and form part of Nxele’s documents filed with the court. The letters were sent to the investigative bodies to probe Modise’s handling of the Ngobese matter.

The two letters sent by Nxele state that Ngobese has a “child with the Minister of Police”.

The letters also accuse Modise of having an affair with another senior female correctional services employee, who was allegedly dismissed and then reinstated.

Zulu refuted the affair accusation, claiming it is “bereft of any factual basis”, while he said Modise’s suspension of Nxele was based on fact and not an act of retaliation.

Zulu said that aside from failing to reinstate Ngobese, the other charges against Nxele were serious, including his involvement in a R10,6 million tender.

“This irregularity was only discovered by [Modise] recently because of [Nxele’s] conduct of frustrating ... the departmental investigating unit.”

Zulu attached an e-mail Nxele had sent to all his staff in February 2012 that read “no official from the departmental investigation unit is allowed to enter the premises”.

Zulu said Nxele had continually frustrated the investigation into the tender with the Mthethwa Coal company.

Zulu said Nxele’s claim that he was suspended because he has reported irregularities to the Public Service Commission and Public Protector was “opportunistic in the extreme”, while “[Nxele] appears to harbour resentment because he was not appointed to the [post of national commissioner]”.

“There was nothing hasty about this suspension. The suspension was justified,” he said.

Zulu said the allegations levelled against the department and Modise were “extremely one-sided”, and that the charges against Nxele arose because he refused to “obey and comply with various lawful instructions”.

Read more on:    nathi nhleko  |  pietermaritzburg  |  politics

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