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Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa on Wednesday welcomed the investigation of national police commissioner General Riah Phiyega by watchdog the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid).
But he has appealed for the investigation into defeating the ends of justice to be allowed to run its course, said spokesman Zweli Mnisi.
“As the ministry, we have always said those who police the police – whenever there are any charges against any police officer, even a constable – must be allowed to do their job,” he said. “Let’s be fair. Let’s allow the process to unfold.”
He dismissed calls for Phiyega’s suspension.
On Tuesday, Ipid announced it would fast-track a probe into whether the national police commissioner defeated the ends of justice by allegedly informing Western Cape police commissioner Arno Lamoer he was under investigation for accepting a bribe.
It emerged police intelligence officers had opened a case against Phiyega in Cape Town but, since the storm over the allegations broke, the national police commissioner’s office has maintained she had not initiated such a conversation. Instead, her office claimed a smear campaign.
Questions hang over the controversy, as some indicate the charges against the SAPS boss, and the probe of her provincial head, arise out of discontent in crime intelligence circles. A cloud has hung over police intelligence for the past two years, following the suspension, reinstatement and second suspension of national crime intelligence boss Richard Mdluli.
Parliamentary police committee chairwoman Annelize van Wyk said Ipid was best placed to investigate the claims and, should its probe run into interference, it could report this to the minister or the committee.
“It is a serious allegation… I do not see a reason for the national commissioner to be suspended,” she said, adding Phiyega’s audit of skills and qualifications and other steps had not made her popular.
“We need to be circumspect around these allegations (against Phiyega). The environment of crime intelligence is a contested environment.
“We all know there are several crime intelligence officers who are appearing in court… there are other challenges over (security) vetting. One would be naive not to take this into consideration,” she said.
DA MP and police spokeswoman Dianne Kohler Barnard on Tuesday called for Phiyega’s suspension, given the seriousness of the allegations.
“If she is found guilty, we trust she will be summarily dismissed and formally charged with defeating the ends of justice,” Kohler Barnard said.
* Lamoer failed to arrive for his weekly meeting with Community Safety MEC Dan Plato on Tuesday.
Plato announced on Monday he would use Tuesday’s meeting as an opportunity to ask the provincial commissioner to make a public statement on corruption allegations against him.
The Cape Argus has established that a docket for investigation has been lodged at the Bishop Lavis police station.
Lamoer’s relationship with a Parow businessman is being probed by the Hawks.