McBride letter: Phiyega protected 'corrupt' cops

2015-10-13 14:39
National police commissioner General Riah Phiyega. (Netwerk24)

National police commissioner General Riah Phiyega. (Netwerk24)

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Johannesburg - President Jacob Zuma should consider placing national police commissioner General Riah Phiyega on precautionary suspension for failing to take action against three KwaZulu-Natal officers allegedly implicated in corruption.

This is according to a letter handed to Police Minister Nathi Nhleko by Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid) head Robert McBride in January this year.

The letter was published by Eyewitness News on Tuesday.

Beyond Phiyega, McBride recommended Lieutenant General Mmamonnye Ngobeni, Colonel Navin Madhoe and Captain Aswin Narainpershad be placed on precautionary suspension and that disciplinary action be taken against the three.

According to the letter, Ngobeni was told of financial irregularities within the provincial police, totalling R60.5m, but she failed to order an investigation - and stopped investigations that had already begun into the matter.

Ngobeni allegedly ordered a Hawks investigation into the matter be stopped at least five times.

She apparently held a surprise birthday party for her husband Brigadier Lucas Ngobeni that was funded by the main suspect in the Hawks investigation, Durban businessman Thoshan Panday.

Madhoe was arrested for alleged bribery in connection with the financial irregularities. During Madhoe's arrest, the investigation report implicating him was found in the boot of his car.

However, the report itself was handed to Ngobeni in confidence by provincial Hawks head Johan Booysen.

McBride's letter states that as "a result of Madhoe's arrest and detention, Madhoe was placed on precautionary suspension which was later lifted after the charges were provisionally withdrawn".

"Instead of the PC [provincial commissioner Ngobeni] continuing with the disciplinary process against Madhoe, she uplifted the suspension and placed him back at Supply Chain Management that was under investigation."

"By reinstating Madhoe the PC [Ngobeni] ignored the fact that Madhoe could have potentially interfered with the investigation that was in progress."

Defrauding the police

McBride said both Madhoe and Narainpershad were allegedly involved in defrauding the police of R15m. Further fraud was prevented only by Booysen and his investigative team.

A PricewaterhouseCoopers money-trail analysis "conclusively linked" Ngobeni, Madhoe, Narainpershad and Panday and showed that the three officers maintained a "corrupt relationship" with Panday.

"The Provincial Commissioner [Ngobeni] elected to remain silent when offered an opportunity to explain her involvement in the alleged crimes," McBride said.

Phiyega failed to take disciplinary action against the three with regard to their relationship with Panday. She also renewed Ngobeni's contract without any internal report clearing the provincial commissioner of corruption allegations.

McBride said Phiyega "interfered in the investigation of the alleged corruption by suspending Booysen, who is a key witness in the corruption and bribery cases", and "instead of disciplining Ngobeni for failure to report and investigate allegations of corruption, she initiated disciplinary action against Booysen".

McBride accused Phiyega of ignoring provisions of the Protected Disclosures Act by testifying on Ngobeni's behalf during Booysen's disciplinary hearing where "serious allegations were made" against Ngobeni.

"According to the findings made by the chairperson in the disciplinary proceedings against Booysen, the National Commissioner [Phiyega] interfered in the disciplinary proceedings by testifying about incidents she knew nothing about."

Phiyega apparently gave Booysen three choices instead of taking disciplinary action against him. These were staying on extended paid leave, transferring to another province or buying out his contract with full pay on the remaining years of service.

"The intention of the disciplinary hearing, the instruction to transfer, the offer of retirement were all intended to remove Booysen from the position he legally holds and to finalise the investigation," McBride said.

"In fact, the conduct of the National Commissioner [Phiyega] suggests that the PC [Ngobeni] is incompetent to lead or discipline her subordinates, however, despite that, she extended her contract."

Racketeering charges

McBride said Phiyega's conduct may amount to racketeering, because instead of dealing with the corruption allegations against Ngobeni, she associated herself with Ngobeni, enabling corrupt activities to thrive.

Phiyega's spokesperson Lieutenant General Solomon Makgale said in an SMS to News24 they were not aware of McBride's letter, with Ipid best suited to comment.

"In so far as the matter of Lieutenant General Ngobeni is concerned, we did receive a letter from Ipid to say that there is no criminality which could be established," Makgale said.

"However, Ipid is recommending that an internal disciplinary action should be taken against Lieutenant General Ngobeni."

In line with policy, police appointed a director-general to investigate the matter, but they were later advised the director-general was no longer available.

"We are now procuring the services of an external legal person to investigate this matter and provide us with a report as to whether there are grounds for disciplinary action," Makgale he said.

"As it relates to the subordinates of Lieutenant General Ngobeni, the national commissioner appointed Lieutenant General Mpembe to conduct an investigation. It has since been completed and our human resources management is studying the report and will then decide on the next course of action."

Police ministry spokesperson Musa Zondi, also in an SMS to News24, said: "We do not comment on matters that are currently undergoing investigations."

Ngobeni's spokesperson Colonel Jay Naicker told News24 via SMS: "We are not aware of the letter. We cannot understand why there would be a request for an investigation into the allegations against the Provincial Commissioner as the allegations were investigated and the NPA [National Prosecuting Authority] declined to prosecute."

Ipid had not responded to questions by the time of publication.

Read more on:    ipid  |  police  |  robert mcbride  |  riah phiyega  |  nathi nhleko  |  fraud  |  corruption

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