Ngobeni moved to Durban

2016-05-25 13:01
The now former uMgungundlovu cluster commander Major-General Lucas Ngobeni who, in a surprise move, has been transferred out of the city to another post in Durban.

The now former uMgungundlovu cluster commander Major-General Lucas Ngobeni who, in a surprise move, has been transferred out of the city to another post in Durban. (Ian Carbutt, The Witness)

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Pietermaritzburg - After only 15 months at the helm of Pietermaritzburg’s police force, Major-General Lucas Ngobeni has, in a surprise move, been hastily transferred to a Durban cluster.

The Witness can reveal Ngobeni received an instruction from the office of acting national police commissioner Khomotso Phahlane to vacate his Pietermaritzburg office.

This comes close on the heels of the suspension of his wife, KwaZulu-Natal police commissioner Lieutenant-General Mmamonnye Ngobeni.

Mmamonnye Ngobeni was suspended last week following ­allegations that wealthy Durban businessman Thoshan Panday paid about R30 000 for a birthday bash for her husband.

The Witness has written 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The charges against Panday and Mmamonnye Ngobeni were withdrawn due to a lack of evidence, but ­investigations into the matter were continued by then KZN Hawks head Johan Booysen, and thereafter by Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID) head Robert McBride. Both men were suspended from their jobs.

Well-placed sources in provincial police management said Ngobeni would be transferred to the eThekwini Outer cluster office in Durban as early as June 1.

According to the sources, Ngobeni will now head the Phoenix cluster as he did before his move to Pietermaritzburg in March 2015.

Some sources said the move has come as a directive to relocate senior managers to clusters closer to their place of residence, and that Ngobeni was not the only officer affected in the province.

The police’s communication officers kept mum on the issue yesterday, so this could not be confirmed.

However, speaking on condition of anonymity yesterday, various local police officers said the timing of Ngobeni’s transfer is “too convenient”.

“Ngobeni has previously alleged that his wife was a victim of a vendetta to have her removed from provincial police management. With her suspension being carried out not even a week ago, one wonders if this is not another move to further destabilise the family,” one police source said.

Taking over from Ngobeni in an acting role is seasoned crime-fighter Brigadier Robert Mandla Gwala, who is currently the deputy cluster commander of the uMgungundlovu South police region — which Ngobeni currently heads up.

Gwala, who was previously the station commander at Plessislaer, will now assume control of the cluster’s 11 stations — Pietermaritzburg, Alexandra, Prestbury, Townhill, Hilton, Plessislaer, Richmond, Taylor’s Halt, Thornville, Camperdown and Mid-Illovo.

In an exclusive interview with The Witness yesterday, Ngobeni said he is going through mixed feelings after maintaining strong relationships with Pietermaritzburg residents, police colleagues and local crime-fighting role-players.

“With 15 months in Pietermaritzburg, the town has become a home away from home. I was overwhelmed by the welcome I got and I met a lot of warm people, especially in my cluster,” Ngobeni said.

“I feel as though I have managed to accomplish many of the goals I set out when I arrived such as establishing a good working relationship with traditional leaders, community policing forums and various youth desks.”

During his term, Ngobeni was one of the main driving forces behind developing a district drug master plan, closing down some of the city’s most notorious brothels and establishing various projects and task teams to take down hardened criminal syndicates.

“I am optimistic that Brigadier Gwala, who was born and bred in Pietermaritzburg, will do well to manage the police. He knows the area and its challenges well,” Ngobeni said.

He said he is glad that he will now be closer to his Durban home and can therefore spend more time with his wife and their three children.


Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  saps

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