KZN’s top cop faces IPID probe

2015-02-13 00:00

KWAZULU-NATAL’S top cop Mmamonnye Ngobeni could face criminal charges just weeks after her five-year contract was renewed for a second term of office.

A Witness investigation revealed that Ngobeni is ­under investigation by the Independent Police ­Investigative Directorate (IPID), which conducts investigations against police suspected of wrongdoing.

A senior police source and a well-placed source ­within IPID both confirmed that investigations into Ngobeni on suspicion of corruption and defeating the ends of justice were ongoing.

Both sources could not be named for fear of reprisals.

It is understood that the corruption investigation pertains to her links to businessman Thoshan Panday and his associates, who had paid nearly R20 000 for her husband Lucas’s birthday party in 2010.

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

Last year, The Witness published an exposé entitled “Proof Positive”, in which invoices from the party, ­witness affidavits and police dockets drew a tangible link between Ngobeni and Panday.

Controversy surrounding Panday arose from accusations that he inflated accommodation prices for police officers, in concert with senior officials within the police’s supply chain management (SCM) department.

The National Prosecuting Authority withdrew charges against Panday and the other officers implicated.

It is believed that the second investigation by IPID, that of defeating the ends of justice, regards allegations that Ngobeni had actively tried to scupper the Hawks’ investigation into Panday.

In January, The Witness submitted a Promotion of Access to Information Act application, calling on the police to make available a forensic audit into the police’s supply chain management department.

The police responded, insisting that the report, which cost the taxpayer R1,93 million, was now in the hands of IPID and that it was sub judice.

IPID spokesperson Moses Dlamini said that he was not in a position to confirm or deny that Ngobeni was under investigation. “In cases like this we choose not to comment,” he said.

However, police spokesperson Solomon Makgale confirmed national commissioner Riah Phiyega had been made aware of investigations against Ngobeni.

“SAPS received a report from IPID regarding ­allegations against the provincial commissioner. Just to clarify process-wise, a police officer can be criminally charged just like any person. This process is dealt with by the courts and the National Prosecuting Authority. In terms of disciplinary matters, only the police as the employer can bring charges against an employee,” he said.

Makgale added that top police brass would conduct their own regulatory probe into the embattled ­provincial commissioner.

He said that he was in possession of a document from the NPA indicating that they would not criminally charge Ngobeni.

When contacted for comment, Ngobeni said: “You and your newspaper are disseminating false and ­defamatory statements against me by repeatedly publishing such baseless allegations which are leaked to you by certain members of the Hawks whose identities are well known to me and the SAPS.

“The NPA has already dealt with the so-called R2 million ‘PWC report’ and have declined to ­prosecute anyone despite the Hawks’ misplaced ­reliance on it …

“If the IPID elect to investigate those allegations … they will arrive to the same conclusion, that I am­ ­innocent. You published defamatory material against me. I reserve all my rights to proceed against you and your paper for publishing such defamatory material.”

When Ngobeni was charged as part of a Hawks ­investigation, the NPA declined to prosecute on the grounds that there was insufficient evidence to secure a successful conviction.

Private investigator Paul O’Sullivan, credited with bringing down disgraced former national police ­commissioner Jackie Selebi, said that the probe into Ngobeni’s alleged malfeasance was long overdue.

“I have no knowledge of what steps are being taken against the provincial commissioner, but what I will say is that they are well overdue and should have been taken a long time ago.”

“We need to now establish how she managed to ­remain in power for so long,” he added.

Dianne Kohler-Barnard, the DA spokesperson on ­police, welcomed the investigation, insisting that ­inquiries of this sort are the mainstay of IPID.


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