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eThekwini metro police boss, Eugene Nzama, says he fears for his life because he has found dirt between councillors, municipal officials and the taxi industry.
The police chief, who was asked to return to work today after challenging a three-month suspension, feels there is a plot to get rid of him after the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) last year reported grave threats to his safety.
“There are councillors and senior municipal officials with links to the taxi industry, and I have been asking questions because of the unethical nature of their business dealings,” Nzama said.
“Not everyone is comfortable with this. I was investigated last year when allegations were made, and cleared of any wrongdoing then. All these threats and accusations against me are part of a plot to remove me because I am not dancing to the music some people want me to dance to.”
In a document seen by the Daily News, the NIA last year wrote to former city manager, Mike Sutcliffe, and the SAPS Crime Intelligence Unit, alerting them to a security threat against Nzama and recommending that it be taken seriously.
According to the NIA, alleged claims and threats against Nzama since last year included:
* A leading taxi figure, named in the document, claimed that Nzama was “harassing” taxi operators in Durban. The report stated that this figure was responsible for organising a taxi strike in Durban on April 19, 2010.
* During a meeting of taxi operators last year, this taxi man brandished a piece of paper with Nzama’s home address, and asked the operators: “What can we do about this?”, and privately allegedly stated that “Nzama should be murdered”. The NIA also reported that taxi industry acquaintances were asked to “follow Nzama around”.
* The taxi boss had started assembling information about Nzama and his family and alleged that he was building a case of corruption against the metro police boss.
Contacted for comment on the NIA report on the alleged death threats, the prominent taxi man referred all Nzama-related media queries to KZN Transport Alliance general secretary, Bafana Mhlongo.
However, Mhlongo said he could not comment as the taxi boss had been speaking in his personal capacity.
Nzama felt that the recent allegations against him formed part of the same plot to discredit him.
His lawyer, Zane Haneef, told the Daily News that he was still awaiting clarity on what exactly his client was being investigated for.
“We do not even know what the charges or nature of the investigations are. What is more concerning is the letter from the city manager to my client indicates that he is being placed on special leave due to the security threats and allegations made against him,” Haneef said.
“There is a process that needs to be followed; you cannot simply place someone on special leave because there are allegations.”
He added that while his client was asked to return to work and for the leave to be uplifted, they had not been informed about the investigations that also formed the basis for the special leave.
City manager, Sibusiso Sithole, had not responded to several calls seeking comment by the time of going to press. Sithole is himself under 24-hour guard because, he says, he has rubbed certain people up the wrong way after the Manase audit report on graft in the council.
The municipality’s spokesman, Thabo Mofokeng, said he was unaware that Nzama had been asked to report to work on Monday, and said he would call back to confirm if Nzama was still being investigated. He failed to do so.
Mhlongo said the taxi alliance would be holding a meeting on Tuesday to discuss the issue of Nzama returning to work. “It’s fine if he is returning and performing different duties, but if he continues to harass the taxi industry, then this would be a problem,” he said. – Additional reporting by Noelene Barbeau