Guest Column

The rogue cop renaissance

2018-08-08 07:35
Deputy President David Mabuza.  (Photo: File, Gallo Images)

Deputy President David Mabuza. (Photo: File, Gallo Images)

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Mandy Wiener

The “New Dawn” being celebrated in the law enforcement sector over the past few months appears to have been overcast by a flurry of dubious appointments of previously powerful individuals, brought back in from the wilderness.

Earlier this week it was confirmed that former Crime Intelligence chief Mulangi Mphego has been appointed as special advisor to Deputy President David Mabuza. Then yesterday it was revealed that controversial intelligence cop Colonel Nkosana "Killer" Ximba, who has retired from the SAPS, has been installed as Ekurhuleni Mayor Mzwandile Masina's security chief.

Both appointments have been met by shock and surprise in the security sector because of the baggage the duo bring to their respective roles and their badly checkered pasts.

Mphego comes with allegations of defeating the ends of justice for interfering in the case against former national police commissioner Jackie Selebi and was linked to the corruption and rape cases against former president Jacob Zuma.

Mphego appeared in court for trying to get the Scorpions’ main witness, Glenn Agliotti, to contradict previous statements he had made implicating Selebi in corruption and thereby undermine the case against his ally.

Mphego orchestrated secret meetings at the Balalaika Hotel, a favourite haunt of spooks and spies, just as the case against Selebi was teetering on the brink. The charges against him were dropped more because of the demise of the Scorpions than because of the credibility of the claims.

Mphego also featured prominently in running interference in Zuma's rape case and it was even alleged that he had flirted with Zuma's rape accuser while she was under police protection in order to paint her as a "loose woman".

He was also accused of handing over the much vaunted "Spy Tapes" that led to Zuma's corruption charges being dropped.

His appointment as Mabuza's security advisor comes just as the Deputy President has found himself on the sharp end of a blistering article in The New York Times.

The timing has made it difficult for commentators in the security sector not to draw an inference that Mphego's affinity for dirty tricks campaigns and shady deals in smoky hotel rooms may be needed by Mabuza now more than ever.

Mphego has a remarkable ability to spirit away the skeletons and a master in the dark arts may be just what Mabuza requires.

Meanwhile over on the East Rand, another top Crime Intelligence cop is enjoying a renaissance.

Retired Colonel Nkosana Nximba's appointment as Mayor Masina's security chief makes sense when one considers how vociferous Masina was in support of the NDZ campaign ahead of last year's ANC conference at Nasrec. He famously said he would never serve under Cyril Ramaphosa but then hastily backtracked when that became his reality.

"Killer" Ximba has long been seen as a close ally and protege of former Crime Intelligence head Richard Mdluli, although the two are believed to have had a major fallout of late.

Ximba had worked as a community constable in Vosloorus and, in 1999, Mdluli recommended that he be permanently appointed to the SAPS.

However, in March 2005, Ximba resigned from the police. When he applied to be reappointed in 2007, the full scope of his past came to the fore. Mdluli instructed that he be reappointed, but the SAPS personnel services opposed this.

In 2001, Ximba was investigated for possessing an unlicensed firearm, but the docket went missing. Personnel services said that Ximba had a previous criminal conviction for reckless and negligent driving.

A Boksburg businessman, Vusi Msimango, claimed he was "brutally tortured" by Ximba. The cop was also implicated in the alleged torture of detained striking mine workers at Marikana.

Despite the allegations against Ximba, Mdluli controversially promoted him from constable to colonel in March 2010.

"Killer" went on to play a pivotal role in the arrest of Czech fugitive Radovan Krejcir, who also accused him of torture. Ximba was arrested for his alleged involvement in a murder case involving Mdluli but charges against him were later withdrawn.

Both Mphego and Ximba are seen as "Mdluli men", part of a faction within the law enforcement environment that for the better part of the last decade, broadly sought to protect the politically powerful around Zuma through the gross abuse and manipulation of state organs.

This groupings scope of influence was largely depleted as Ramaphosa's new guard, including Godfrey Lebeya and Peter Jacobs, came into force at the SAPS to head up the Hawks and Crime Intelligence respectively.

But these two recent appointments may signal a fightback from the Mdluli crew. Mdluli himself is unofficially in the employ of the State Security Agency, having taken early retirement from the police this year.

In their new roles, Mphego and Ximba will have access to security infrastructure, manpower and crucially, intelligence.

In this game, information is power and this could see them working against the leadership of law enforcement when these institutions desperately need stability after many years of debilitating infighting.

What these appointments also indicate is that in this opaque world of law and justice, no one is ever cast out in the wilderness forever and no one can be conclusively written off. There is always a route back in to the fold and the interminable battle for the control of security institutions serves as a proxy for the fight for greater political power.

- Mandy Wiener is a journalist and author. Her recently released book, Ministry of Crime, looks at the relationship between organised crime, powerful politicians and law-enforcement agencies in South Africa.

Disclaimer: News24 encourages freedom of speech and the expression of diverse views. The views of columnists published on News24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of News24.

Read more on:    david mabuza  |  crime  |  police  |  politics
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