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Durban - A Durban police colonel has landed in hot water for a Jacob Zuma jibe he allegedly made at a police year-end function in December.
Colonel Teddy Munusamy, who heads up the police emergency services unit, is also accused of running the elite Flying Squad unit as his personal fiefdom and of facilitating special police protection for Chinese businessmen.
But it is a move by his son, Constable Sanders Munusamy, to “bling out” a police high-performance car with black carbon fibre wrapping that has police officers hot under the collar.
Speaking at the year-end police party at Moses Mabhida Stadium, where several Chinese businessmen were given awards, Munusamy allegedly said: “A Chinese doctor can perform heart surgery within 10 minutes - in South Africa, we re-elect an uneducated president.”
Sections of the party crowd, which included high-ranking officers General Bala Naidoo and Brigadier Ronald Clayton, are said to have been baffled by the jibe.
Although Munusamy has vehemently denied making the statement, the incident has been corroborated by at least six independent police sources who were present at the function.
“It was completely unexpected,” said an officer who was at the party, who asked not to be named.
“We were all shocked when he said it. A lot of members feel that the commander should not have brought politics to the year-end party. It is such things that divide us.”
Provincial police spokesman Colonel Vincent Mdunge said that, if true, Munusamy’s statements were tantamount to high treason and defamation of character, and would be viewed extremely seriously.
“The provincial commissioner will appoint a senior commissioned officer to investigate, and he will not hesitate to take steps upon the findings of the investigation.”
Mdunge said: “As a member of the SAPS, you cannot speak the president down. Not under any circumstances. It becomes criminal because you’d be seen in the eyes of the law to be defaming the character of the president, which is disallowed in the law.
“If there are, therefore, such allegations, they must be reported officially, and an investigation will be done and decisive action will be taken.
“This is something that must be looked at in a very serious light. It’s as good as high treason.”
But Munusamy flatly denied making the statement, instead attributing the allegations to “criminal elements not willing to toe the line”.
Munusamy said: “They’re talking nonsense. I didn’t mention anything. Somebody is making mischief. Unfortunately, we do have mischief-makers in the police. When you’re firm as a commander, these things happen. This is not the first time these things are being said. But we’re clean. We do everything by the book.”
Munusamy recently returned from a state-sanctioned week-long trip to China, which he described as aimed at fostering bilateral relations between China and South Africa.
Asked about the objective of the trip to China’s Fujian province, Munusamy said: “Its objective was to foster good working bilateral relations with China, more especially because most of the criminal elements from there end up here. We spent time with Chinese police and we came back and presented on what we picked up from there.”
Responding to why Chinese businessmen had received awards at a police function, Munusamy said the businessmen were members of the Chinese Police Co-operation Centre, which was run as a community police forum, and had helped thwart criminal attacks aimed at the Chinese business community.
“It was to reward them for their assistance.”
Meanwhile, several independent police sources said Munusamy’s son had express use of three high-performance police cars - namely, a VW Golf 5 GTI, a VW Polo GTI, a Mazda 3 MPS, and two motorbikes.
Sanders, a constable from a provincial task force, had express use of the Flying Squad cars.
“That kid just does what he wants. Why would he worry about the consequences when his father is a colonel and the commander of the unit?
“He uses vehicles assigned to the unit when he isn’t even part of it himself.”
Sanders, 26, confirmed having fitted carbon fibre wrapping to the bonnet, roof and back hatch of the VW Golf GTI, claiming he was unaware that this was not allowed.
The carbon wrapping was to cover the stone chips and the rust on the roof of the car, he said.
He said the carbon fibre had been removed from the car “months ago”, after the intervention of officers from SAPS Logistics, except for the roof, which still had leaks.
The original police markings were removed from the car and replaced “after only one day”, as they had become faded, he said.
Said Sanders Munusamy: “I don’t understand where all of this is coming from. People are under the impression that I have all these cars to myself.
“They see me driving this car today, and another one tomorrow, and get jealous about it.
“They look at what’s happening and make their own conclusions.
“They’re under the impression that this is happening because my father works there. All I do is work. I’m not getting preferential treatment…
“If you speak to my commander, I’m the highest-performing policeman.
“If I need something, I get it.
“Over the past month, I made over 157 arrests by myself… other members are making three and four.”
Sources alleged that, because of his father’s position, Sanders had not been brought to book for modifying the police car.
“The vehicle sits at the unit and he still uses it with that wrapping all over the car. Nepotism in our unit is rife - it is all about who you know,” said one.
ANC provincial secretary Sihle Zikalala declined to comment, saying he would wait for a full report on Munusamy’s alleged denigration of the president before he added his voice to the issue.
Spokesman for the Presidency Mac Maharaj said he could not comment on the issue until such time as he had seen a complete transcript of Munusamy’s address at the year-end function. - Sunday Independent