More winds of change at SAPS as yet another general is suspended

2019-04-07 09:14
(SAPS)

(SAPS)

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South Africa's police commissioner Khehla Sitole has suspended the deputy national commissioner for human resource management, Bonang Mgwenya, who is ranked the second most senior official at the South African Police Service after the commissioner.

News24 understand she was handed a suspension letter on Thursday just days after making representations on why she should not be suspended.

READ: 'Untouchable' cop finally suspended

Mgwenya was asked to make representations following an investigation by the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID) over what one insider, who asked to stay anonymous, told News24 was an innocent act aimed at helping her son obtain a driver's licence at the Benoni testing station.

The deputy commissioner, according to the letter of intention signed by Sitole and which News24 has seen, is accused of an act of "misconduct", which "detrimentally affected the service" and or even "brought it into disrepute", as well as "abusing her authority".

However, the police source who knows about the matter claims Mgwenya said she called the department to find out if an appointment could be made for her son to obtain a learner's permit at the testing station, mostly reserved by police.

An official told her it was possible.

READ: General De Lange not forced out, but opted to leave - national police

Due process

The insider further says the deputy commissioner's son followed all processes and paid for his licence on his own.

Mgwenya was said to be implicated in the matter when it emerged some officials at the testing station had issued fraudulent licenses, with one claiming they did the same for her son.

"I am satisfied that there is a prima facie evidence of misconduct and the seriousness of allegations as well as the fact that your presence in the workplace (pending the finalisation of the matter) has the potential to compromise the witnesses informed the decision to suspend you with immediate effect," explains Sitole in Mgwenya's suspension letter.

This is slightly at odds with IPID's version, which says the matter has been finalised and communicated to Sitole. The directorate's spokesperson Moses Dlamini said they investigated claims of fraud and corruption against the Mgwenya.

"(We) made recommendations to the National Commissioner that disciplinary action be taken against her. The criminal case is in the process of being referred to the NPA (National Prosecuting Authority) for a decision on prosecution," said Dlamini.

Challenge

Mgwenya's attorney Ari Soldatos from Fluxmans Attorneys confirmed to News24 that his client was officially suspended by Sitole on Thursday.

"We really believe there is no substance to the allegations made against my client. Nor do we believe the suspension is procedurally fair," said Soldatos.

He also confirmed that his client has already asked him to challenge the suspension.

Meanwhile, unions have expressed shock at the silence around Mgwenya's suspension, with president of the South African Policing Union, Mpho Kwinika, saying they were not formally informed, and only heard rumours that it had happened.

"One would have expected the national commissioner to announce formally like he did with General Deliwe De Lange," he said.

He went on to complain about the lack of transparency at the police, adding that at a recent gathering SAPS commanders refused to hear from their general, instead only allowing police minister Bheki Cele to address them.

"Never in the history of the police has such ever happened," said Kwinika.

"Something is not right," he added.

SAPU has been in favour of Sitole's removal.

It feels this is just another example of the winds of change at play, in the wake of a number of generals, including former acting police commissioner Khomotso Phahlane and General Johannes Mokwena being removed.

Surprise

"Police are at their absolute low today, until the president has a serious look and does something about the police, we will never come out the hole," said Kwinika, expressing his frustrations.

While the Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union also seemed surprised by the latest developments, its president Zizamele Cebekhulu said they would wait until Monday to understand why Mgwenya was suspended.

"We still looking for the details; just got a message on Friday about the suspension as to what is happening, we don't know," he said.

SAPS refused to comment on the claims, with the spokesperson of the national commissioner, Brigadier Vish Naidoo, saying the police never discuss internal matters.

"This is an internal matter; we are going to keep it strictly internal," he said.

Attempts to reach the police minister were unsuccessful.

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Read more on:    police  |  khehla sitole
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