A con artist who was declared dead by Home Affairs managed to trick the police into believing he was a Hawks top cop dispatched by the national commissioner.

He even helped to nab another alleged con artist. He was allowed to investigate, arrest criminals and use KwaZulu-Natal police cars and other facilities. Several police officers sang his praises as he came across as legitimate. The con artist had been arrested several times for other crimes before impersonating a police officer.

Calling himself Brigadier Musa Khumalo, he apparently convinced KZN provincial police commissioner Mammonnye Ngobeni and several provincial commanders to give him SAPS cars for “work purposes”.

An officer who worked with him for almost six months said Khumalo loved police BMWs.

The officer could not be named because he is not allowed to speak to the media.

Many top cops in the province obediently complied with Khumalo’s instructions, and never bothered to check his credentials.

Hawks spokesman Colonel McIntosh Polela yesterday confirmed that they were investigating the man.

“He (Khumalo) is in possession of a brigadier’s uniform.

“In such a case, junior officers would seldom ask a person to prove his/her rank and credentials.”

Polela said the police had since issued a warrant of arrest.

“(The police) have established that this individual was declared deceased by Home Affairs in 2008,” Polela said.

Before General Riah Phiyega’s appointment, Khumalo claimed to have been dispatched to KZN by Lieutenant-General Nhlanhla Mkhwanazi, who was acting commissioner.

Officers said Khumalo would drop the names of Phiyega or Mkhwanazi to get what he wanted.

Khumalo surfaced in February during a probe into Sibusiso Gcabashe, who claimed he was maskandi artist Khulekani “Mgqumeni” Mseleku risen from the dead. Khumalo was one of the “investigators” involved in his arrest.

Another senior officer speaking anonymously said Khumalo came across as a “legitimate investigator”.

“He would go to a crime-busting unit and ask for help in arresting members of crime syndicates, and all the leads he gave were legitimate… resulting mostly in the foiling of drug syndicates,” the senior officer said.

In the past six months he allegedly called some of his colleagues, bragging that he was in Cape Town with Phiyega and circulating a fake picture of himself and the commissioner.

A senior officer said questions had been asked then, because in the picture he was wearing a full police uniform and his name tag – when Hawks members did not wear uniforms.

Another top official said the provincial Hawks received an inquiry from “concerned” people in Pinetown outside Durban saying a Brigadier Khumalo was on his way to interview them.

They were told there was no such brigadier. Khumalo did not arrive.

The officer who worked with Khumalo said the man was doing a “great job” – he helped recover several stolen vehicles. Khumalo had spy equipment: a tie, cap and pen with tiny hi-tech cameras and a device used to find suspects through their cellphones.

“(He) used his machines to help make arrests. Now we are wondering what will happen to the people he arrested,” the officer said.

KZN police spokesman Colonel Vincent Mdunge would not comment, saying it was a Hawks matter. - Sunday Independent