Controversial policeman tipped for high-ranking job

Minister of Police Bheki Cele at the launch of the Public Order Policing Reserve Units. (Alex Mitchley/News24)
Minister of Police Bheki Cele at the launch of the Public Order Policing Reserve Units. (Alex Mitchley/News24)

The police minister and national police commissioner will today announce the appointment of senior managers. It is an announcement that is expected to be watched carefully as the list of some of the shortlisted candidates comes with a history of controversy.

This afternoon, Minister of Police Bheki Cele and national commissioner General Khehla Sitole will announce the appointments of divisional commissioners from Crime Intelligence, detective services, protection and security services, as well as the provincial commissioner of the Free State.

News24 has reliably learnt that Major General Ntebo "Jan" Mabula, the current North West SAPS deputy crime detection head, was interviewed for the post of divisional commissioner of crime detection and he has been recommended for the post by one of the police's most senior officials.

This, despite Mabula and his team from the North West having been investigated by the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID) for allegedly torturing a man who was in custody, which has resulted in pending criminal and disciplinary cases against him.

He has also developed a reputation for being involved in political arrests.

Counter-investigations

Mabula has most recently been involved in former acting police commissioner Khomotso Phahlane's fight-back campaign against IPID.

Phahlane, who has been charged with corruption, allegedly roped in Mabula and his team from the North West to counter-investigate IPID forensic investigator Paul O'Sullivan and his assistant attorney, Sarah-Jane Trent.

O'Sullivan, Trent and IPID investigators Mandla Mahlangu and Temane Binang, were all arrested last year by Mabula's team for a range of charges, including corruption, fraud and racketeering. The charges against the four were provisionally struck from the roll in the Pretoria Magistrate's Court.

Mabula was the previous head of the Hawks in the North West. In 2013, City Press reported that Mabula was a long-term associate of former Crime Intelligence head Richard Mdluli, under whom he served as a detective in Potchefstroom, in the North West, when Mdluli headed organised crime there.

In 2008, under Mdluli's instruction, Mabula was involved in the arrest and failed prosecution of Gerrie Nel by Nomgcobo Jiba. The day after Nel's arrest, then-police commissioner Jackie Selebi launched an urgent application to try to halt the Scorpions' investigation.

Mabula also led the Hawks investigation into the so-called Cato Manor Death Squad. On Jiba's instruction, he arrested KwaZulu-Natal head Major General Johan Booysens for racketeering – charges that were later declared unlawful by a court.

'Wholly unsuitable' candidates

Mabula is still under investigation by IPID for the death, by suffocation, of police informer Solomon Nengwane.

Mabula is not the only shortlisted candidate which has raised eyebrows.

Last week, the Daily Maverick reported that O'Sullivan raised concerns about the three candidates shortlisted for the position of divisional commissioner of Crime Intelligence.

O'Sullivan wrote to Sitole about the impending appointment and said he was aware of three of the candidates who were shortlisted, who were "wholly unsuitable" due to their past involvement in alleged criminal acts.

When asked if Mabula was a shortlisted candidate for the top job, police spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Brenda Muridili said the appointment of senior managers was an internal HR process, which would not be discussed in the media.

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