Johannesburg - The DA has reacted with shock to former acting top cop Nhlanhla Mkhwanazi being moved to a powerful position while there were investigations hanging over his head.
DA spokeswoman on the police Dianne Kohler Barnard said on Wednesday that Public Protector Thuli Madonsela was investigating claims that Mkhwanazi had stated in a meeting that he and other officers had killed an innocent man.
Mkhwanazi has been moved to the Northern Cape as a provincial commissioner, while several senior police officials have been considered for early retirement.
Mkhwanazi had been acting national police commissioner since October last year, after General Bheki Cele was suspended by President Jacob Zuma. He acted until Riah Phiyega was appointed the new police chief in June.
Some say Mkhwanazi, the former head of the special task force, was expected to be roped into Phiyega’s inner circle. But her decision to send him to the Northern Cape is seen as her way of sidelining him.
Mkhwanazi has been informed about his appointment and is expected to start his new job at the beginning of next month.
In a letter Kohler Barnard wrote to the public protector, she said Mkhwanazi had confessed to a group of SAPS members on March 5 that he had been part of a group within the SAPS that had killed an innocent man, but had refused to provide a statement to that effect.
“As he has claimed that he was there when someone was killed, he was therefore implicated in a cover-up,” the letter read.
Kohler Barnard said she was in possession of nine affidavits by those who were at the briefing when he made this startling admission.
In these affidavits, each officer expressed shock at the acting national police commissioner’s “admission regarding his knowledge of killing somebody”.
The documents would be handed over to the public protector for investigation.
“It’s quite extra-ordinary that they would [appoint] Mkhwanazi as a provincial commissioner while there is an investigation hanging over his head… Why are they not waiting for the outcome of the public protector’s investigations? It’s a strange move,” said Kohler Barnard.
It is also understood that Mkhwanazi was being considered for early retirement in terms of section 35 of the SAPS Act, along with several other senior SAPS officials.
The members would take early retirement, get a golden handshake and a monthly salary, and retain their medical aid benefits.
One of the officers, who has been considered for early retirement, would get about R5 million and a salary of R35 000 after deductions.
The SAPS and Mkhwanazi had not responded to queries by the time of publication.