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Johannesburg - Crime intelligence is a “highly sensitive” unit that needs to be headed by a credible person who can be trusted with classified information that involves the security of the country.
Dr Johan Burger, a researcher at the Institute for Security Studies, was reacting to Tuesday’s announcement by national police commissioner General Riah Phiyega that she had suspended acting crime intelligence head Chris Ngcobo after identifying discrepancies in his qualifications during a security clearance process.
Sources told The Star that Ngcobo went awol for more than a month after it emerged that he had allegedly lied about his qualifications.
When Ngcobo was asked if he had been put on special leave following discrepancies in his qualifications, he hesitantly responded: “Ja.” He then put the phone down.
Ngcobo is to face criminal charges of fraud for allegedly lying about his qualifications.
Briefing the National Assembly’s police committee in August, Ngcobo and Phiyega said both the SA Police Service and the State Security Agency were experiencing problems with security vetting, including backlogs.
When Lieutenant-General Solomon Makgale was asked if the delay in Ngcobo’s security clearance could be attributed to backlogs, he said: “People will always have their views. The crime intelligence vetting process takes time.”
Burger said Ngcobo’s security clearance should have been a priority.
“This is a highly sensitive position. They were supposed to make absolutely sure that they had the right person and do proper vetting before he was appointed as an acting head of the unit.
“The head of crime intelligence sits in top-secret meetings with other intelligence agencies from other countries. It is very important that he has security clearance. He has access to top classified information.
“You need someone who can be trusted, not someone who has a criminal record or has false academic records. There is no doubt this is a blunder,” Burger said.
His sentiments were echoed by DA MP Dianne Kohler Barnard, who said this latest fiasco further highlighted the need for stronger leadership within the SAPS.
Phiyega said: “Major-General Ngcobo, Acting Divisional Commissioner of Crime Intelligence, has so far failed to satisfactorily explain the discrepancies. His top-secret security clearance was therefore denied. As such, I placed him on special leave yesterday (Monday) and instructed that criminal investigations and disciplinary action against him be initiated. I want to ensure that this matter is dealt with swiftly.”
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