Public Protector Thuli Madonsela has decided to investigate allegations of abuse of power and improper conduct against acting national police commissioner Nhlanhla Mkhwanazi.
In a letter sent to the DA on Wednesday, Madonsela agreed to probe allegations that he failed to investigate abuse of the police's secret intelligence slush fund for alleged perks for Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa, his family, and a divisional commissioner.
She also agreed to look into claims that the rapidly promoted Mkhwanazi admitted to fellow officers that he had witnessed a murder, but failed to report it.
“After careful assessment of the complaint, I have determined that there is a prima facie case of improper conduct and abuse of power, which warrants an investigation.”
Madonsela was asked to investigate by DA MP Dianne Kohler Barnard.
She claimed Mkhwanazi told about 50 police officers on March 5 that he was “part of a group within SAPS which had killed an innocent man and that he had (later) refused to provide a statement to this effect”.
Kohler Barnard said she was given nine affidavits by police officers who were present at a briefing where Mkhwanazi made “this startling admission”.
Press reports that R200 000 in tax payer's money was used to build a wall around Mthethwa's private home are part of a wider scandal embroiling senior figures who allegedly abused the fund.
The minister has asked the Auditor General to investigate allegations that he benefited, but the saga centres around claims that crime intelligence chief Richard Mdluli misappropriated R5 million from the fund.
Mdluli was reinstated as head of the crime intelligence division in March, after the National Prosecuting Authority withdrew fraud and corruption charges against him related to the secret service account. That was widely believed to be the end of the matter, but Madonsela revealed on Tuesday that the Inspector-General of Intelligence, Faith Radebe, was still investigating it.
Madonsela said that to avoid duplication, she would therefore not at this stage launch her own investigation into Mdluli, but wait for Radebe to conclude her work and then decide whether there was a need to do so.
Asked about reports that Radebe had come under political pressure to drop the matter, Madonsela said this impression had not been conveyed to her.
However, Mkhwanazi complained last week in a briefing to Parliament's portfolio committee on police that political pressure had prevented him from pursuing certain cases.
In response to a question on low conviction rates, he told MPs:
“We have been told in many instances of late that we don’t have the right to investigate certain case dockets.”
He added that he had been told to “release some case dockets to the Inspector General for Intelligence”, in what appeared to be a reference to the charges against Mdluli.
“There are powers beyond us that are going to decide whether there is a conviction or not. It's all good that we say we want to achieve this target of conviction, but we are not prosecutors. We are not judges.”
Mkhwanazi's office has refused to comment on the allegations that he witnessed a murder, saying it would not be proper to do so as the matter was with the Public Protector. – Sapa