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Pretoria - Police commissioner Riah Phiyega is to take personal control of the troubled crime intelligence division and has not decided to bring back its former boss, Richard Mdluli.
Speaking in Parliament this week, Phiyega said crime intelligence played a critical role in policing, but the division was “ailing” and bedevilled by “people politics”.
“I want to give it my special attention and deal with that environment and make sure it plays the role it’s supposed to be playing,” Phiyega said.
“Because, seriously, what is taking place there is less about the objectives, more about people politics and we have to clean those things out.”
Judgment was reserved last week in an application by rights body Freedom Under Law to have the decision to withdraw criminal and disciplinary charges against Mdluli reviewed.
He was suspended amid allegations relating to the death of his ex-lover’s boyfriend and that he had used a secret crime intelligence slush fund to benefit himself and family members.
An inquest however cleared him of involvement in the murder.
The unit’s chief financial officer, Major-General Solly Lazarus, is also on suspension over alleged plundering of the slush fund.
Earlier this year, an operative of the unit was unmasked as a convicted armed robber when he was linked to a cash-in-transit heist.
Captain Morris “KGB” Tshabalala had been a crime intelligence covert agent for 10 years.
Phiyega denied reports that she wanted to reinstate Mdluli, though the SAPS opposed the Freedom Under Law application, arguing the matter should be treated as a labour issue between it and Mdluli.
She revealed the police had hit snags in trying to clean out the 1 448 cops found by an audit of criminality in the service to have criminal records, some dating back to the 1980s.
“There are very serious challenges legally because a lot of time has lapsed. A lot of these issues have prescribed and there are issues of legitimate expectations. That’s what the labour lawyers told us,” Phiyega told the police portfolio committee.
The SAPS had established “boards of fitness” to deal with the cases, but it would take time for these to work through all of them.
She was struggling to get a handle on the service’s 70 IT systems in an effort to “sweep” for further outstanding cases. “I want to understand each and every system we have. What it does, what it can assist us with. I can tell you today that I’m discovering a lot of capability in a number of systems we have.”
FF+ leader Pieter Groenewald teasingly suggested she include Google in her digital armoury - a reference to her bungled appointment of the Gauteng provincial commissioner, later found to have pending drunk-driving and related charges which could have been detected by an internet search.
“Part of the weakness that I have is that I’m what they call a BBC: born before computers,” she responded, adding she was working to overcome this with the help of her daughter, among others.
She brushed off reports last week that her one-time PR consultant, Makhosini Nkosi, had been running a brothel from the same premises as his consultancy. He was just one of thousands of suppliers who were appointed through standard tender processes, she said.