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Johannesburg - Former national police commissioner Bheki Cele dropped a political bombshell yesterday when he revealed the existence of a list of top cops who should be purged from the South African Police Service.
Speaking at the funeral service of top cop Mzondeki Sean Tshabalala in Johannesburg, Cele made reference to a hit list of about 18 police officers who should be “dealt with accordingly”. Cele alleged that Tshabalala, who was found dead at police headquarters in Pretoria, was top of the list of 18 senior officers.
The Sunday Independent’s sister newspaper, Sunday Tribune, was handed the list four weeks before Tshabalala’s death.
The list contains names of police officers who are former operatives of the ANC armed wing Umkhonto weSizwe, including:
- Divisional Commissioner Gary John Kruser, divisional commissioner at the SAPS supply chain management division.
- Suspended acting head of crime intelligence, Major-General Chris Ngcobo, who was suspended amid a qualification and vetting storm.
- KwaZulu-Natal Provincial Commissioner Lieutenant-General Mammonnye Ngobeni.
- Disgraced would-be Gauteng provincial commissioner and former MK strongman Lieutenant-General Bethuel Zuma, arrested for drunken driving and evading justice in Pietermaritzburg.
- Head of Hawks, Lieutenant-General Anwa Dramat.
- KZN acting crime intelligence boss, Lieutenant-General Thuso Tshika.
- Suspended intelligence financial officer, Major General Solly Lazarus.
- Major-General Mxolisi Dladla, who was linked to a blue light crash while driving a BMW registered to a presidential guard.
- Free State deputy commissioner for the Hawks, Major-General Jacob Tsumane.
Cele also revealed to the mourners that Tshabalala had paid him a visit at his Umhlanga home and “cried the whole day”, complaining he was being vicitimised. He also revealed, to Cele, that he had received a letter posting him to the Northern Cape, probably to become provincial commissioner.
Tshabalala had been unhappy about being sent to what is referred to, within the SAPS, as “Siberia”, Cele said.
Contacted for comment yesterday, Cele said he was busy in a meeting and would also not talk later as he would be rushing to catch a plane to Durban.
Earlier Cele had confirmed his comments about the list to Sapa: “I did speak about that… (it) ends there”. Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa was not inside the Walter Sisulu Hall in Randburg.
He was seen chatting to Cele, who was witnessed handing the minister an envelope.
National police commissioner General Riah Phiyega, who spoke after Cele, made reference to the list.
Phiyega said she was hearing about the list for the first time and promised to engage with Cele.
A source present at the funeral said Jason Tshabalala – a former top cop, now head of security at the Airports Company SA and friend of the deceased – spoke first and revealed that the late top cop had complained recently that he was being victimised “after all he had done for the country”.
Cele and Sean Tshabalala had worked together when the former was still commissioner and the latter worked in the technology management services.
Tshabalala, 47, was found dead in his office at police headquarters in Pretoria on December 24.
Police at the time said he died on Monday night, December 23.
He served in the ANC’s armed wing Umkhonto weSizwe and joined the police service on April 1, 1994 during the merging of the statutory and non-statutory forces.
He held the ranks of lieutenant and captain while attached to the presidential unit between 1994 and 1996 and was responsible for operational security planning of that unit.
In 2000, he was appointed head of major events planning with the rank of superintendent (now lieutenant-colonel), and in 2001 he was appointed to the rank of director (now brigadier) in the police’s former VIP protection and static protection unit.
In 2002 he was appointed divisional commissioner of protection and security services, and in 2010 he was appointed the divisional commissioner of technology management services. In 2012, Tshabalala was appointed the inspectorate’s divisional commissioner.
The police force has been rocked by factional battles, leadership instability and high turnover of national commissioners.
Between 2008 and last year, the force saw five national police commissioners – including two acting heads.
Jackie Selebi was convicted of corruption and sentenced to 15 years but did not serve even a year due to ill health. He was released on medical parole in 2012.
Cele was axed after a public protector report suggesting that he interfered in the leasing of police buildings from businessman Roux Shabangu while Nhlanhla Nene and Tim Williams acted for short periods. Cele’s dismissal by President Jacob Zuma created a rift between the erstwhile comrades.
Phiyega replaced Cele and her tenure has so far been turbulent following the Marikana shootings and her subsequent dismal performance at a commission established to probe the massacre.
She is being investigated by the Independent Police Investigative Directorate for allegedly defeating the ends of justice after The Star and this newspaper revealed an intercepted conversation in which she tipped off Western Cape police commissioner Arno Lamoer about his impending arrest. Lamoer is suspected of having links with a crime kingpin in the province.
Under her leadership, factional battled ensued, coupled with the departure of several officers and opposition to her attempt to restructure and streamline the police service. - The Sunday Independent