KZN top cop gets the chop

2016-05-20 12:20
SAPS Provincial Commissioner Lieutenant-General Mmamonnye Ngobeni addressed CAT members and the media at a press conference yesterday which highlighted the successes of the team in the past three months.

SAPS Provincial Commissioner Lieutenant-General Mmamonnye Ngobeni addressed CAT members and the media at a press conference yesterday which highlighted the successes of the team in the past three months. (Jonathan Burton)

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Pietermaritzburg - The much anticipated axe finally fell on ­provincial police commissioner Lieutenant-General Mmamonnye Ngobeni on Thursday, when she was suspended from her job.

Ngobeni was yesterday served with a formal letter of suspension from the office of the acting national police commissioner, Kgomotso ­Phahlane, and will drop her hold on the reins of the province’s police as of today.

The information was confirmed by well-placed sources in police management yesterday, and, according to the sources, Major-General P.B. Langa — who recently joined the provincial office as deputy police commissioner in charge of ­operations — would act as KZN’s police boss.

Ngobeni yesterday confirmed her suspension, but declined to comment further.

However, her lawyer, ­Ravindra Maniklall, indicated that she would fight her ­suspension head-on.

Maniklall said attorney-client confidentiality would not allow him to divulge any ­further information.

Also declining to provide further information on Ngobeni’s suspension, national police spokesperson Hangwani Mulaudzi told The Witness that the SAP reiterated its position that matters of “this nature” are between the employer and employee. “Any decision taken by the acting national commissioner is taken within the confines of our regulatory framework, balanced with the interests of the service and the individual concerned in mind,” said Mulaudzi.


Ngobeni’s suspension has been anticipated since March this year, when she was served with a ­notice of intended suspension.

The embattled commissioner filed her ­representations against the decision last month. The suspension is believed to be geared on ­allegations that wealthy Durban businessman Thoshan Panday paid approximately R30 000 for a birthday bash for Ngobeni’s husband, Major-General Lucas Ngobeni, currently the ­uMgungundlovu South police cluster ­commander in Pietermaritzburg.

It has been alleged that Panday, who has also been linked to President Jacob Zuma, was then favoured by Ngobeni to obtain a police ­accommodation contract during the 2010 ­Soccer World Cup. It is alleged that Panday inflated prices and pocketed about R60 million.

The charges against Panday and Ngobeni were withdrawn due to a lack of evidence, but ­investigations into the matter were continued by then KZN Hawks head Johan Booysen, and thereafter by former Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID) head Robert McBride.

Both men were suspended from their jobs.

In an exclusive interview with The Witness last month, Lucas Ngobeni, speaking in his personal capacity, outlined the effect of the almost six-year long investigation on his family, saying they had been victims of “persecution” in an ongoing vendetta to expel his wife from her position.

His allegations were focused on the ­investigations by Booysen and McBride, as well as an alleged plot to use Ngobeni as a scapegoat to hide the involvement of former police boss Bheki Cele in signing off on the R60 million police ­accommodation contract.


Rishigen Viranna, the DA’s spokesperson on Community Safety and Liaison, said the party welcomed Ngobeni’s “long-awaited” suspension, which they had been calling for since 2014.

“The allegations of corruption have had an impact on the morale of police officers in the province and therefore an impact on crime fighting ... We now hope the new acting commissioner will put procedures in place to mend the damage incurred by the police in the province,” Virrana said.

In an e-mail to The Witness yesterday, Panday said he did not “applaud” Ngobeni’s suspension and felt it would be important that she was ­afforded the opportunity to put forward her side of the matter.

“Maybe then the issue can be finally put to rest,” Panday said.

Local police officers had mixed feelings about Ngobeni’s suspension.

One officer welcomed the decision, saying that allegations of fraud and corruption could not be tolerated in the force.

“Even if the allegations have not been proven, the stain remains. An officer at that level of ­management should have a spotlessly clean slate as a role model to her subordinates,” one officer said.

Another officer, however, applauded ­Ngobeni’s skills as a manager.

“Say what you will about her, but Ngobeni, in her term, has taken an active stance against crime and has been the brains behind many ­successful operations. The fate of the police in this province is murky,” the officer said.


Read more on:    mmamonnye ngobeni  |  pietermaritzburg  |  saps

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