Gauteng - Police Minister Fikile Mbalula’s relationship with acting national police commissioner Lieutenant-General Lesetja Mothiba has collapsed, and he wants the top cop removed from his post.
Sources close to both parties said allegations of Mothiba leading “rogue elements” within SAPS’s crime intelligence are at the centre of the fallout.
Mbalula said on Monday he had “been made aware” of the alleged shenanigans besieging crime intelligence, saying he was “intervening” in the matter, including the alleged appointment of people with criminal records to the department.
“I was at crime intelligence last week, where I was briefed on what is going on. I gave them a set of tasks that I want completed, and I told them I expect feedback in two weeks,” Mbalula asserted, refusing to be drawn on what the “tasks” were.
However, an official who was at the crime intelligence meeting told The Star that Mbalula was “gunning” for Mothiba, as the minister was aware of alleged attempts by Mothiba and his supposed “rogue intelligence operatives” to target him in an elaborative scheme known as Operation Lexus.
“Operation Lexus is operating out of a safe-house in Alberton (Ekurhuleni) and is aimed at framing the minister for the October 2015 murder of businessman Wandile Bozwana,” said the source, who also asked to remain anonymous.
Bozwana, who was the chairperson of the North West Business Forum at the time of his death, died in hospital after being shot in a car while with a female companion.
Mbalula refused to be drawn on Operation Lexus, saying only that he had discussed “the strategic crime fighting plan” within crime intelligence, and how it should strengthen crime-fighting efforts.
National police spokesperson Major-General Sally de Beer said she could neither confirm nor deny the investigations into Mothiba, referring all queries to the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid).
Ipid communications officer Mpho Moeti said Ipid spokesperson Moses Dlamini was out of the country. Moeti did, however, promise to respond to questions sent to Ipid, but had not done so by the time of publication.
De Beer said The Star’s sources on Mothiba’s alleged involvement in “rogue operations” should follow “prescribed procedures” for the allegations to be “thoroughly tested and investigated”.
“The acting national police commissioner will not continuously respond to allegations levelled through media channels,” she said.
Still, a high-ranking police official said Mbalula was furious with Mothiba and further confirmed to The Star that the top cop was being investigated by Ipid on suspicions of defeating the ends of justice.
Mothiba - according to the source, who asked to remain anonymous - allegedly tried to interfere in cases involving SAPS officers who are said to be close to him.
The alleged fallout with Mbalula come hot on the heels of recently fired acting head of crime intelligence Major-General Pat Mokushane’s explosive document that accuses Mothiba of lying to Parliament last month when he said Mokushane did not have a security clearance.
Mothiba also told Parliament that Mokushane was being investigated for allegedly running his private business from his workplace.
In his document, which has been seen by The Star, Mokushane says he was vetted “around 2013/2014”, and received a “top secret” clearance.
Mokushane made scathing allegations in his letter of rogue elements within crime intelligence abusing state resources to illegally hack emails of high-ranking politicians, including those of Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa.
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Other potential scandals contained in the document include allegations of “inflated rentals of safe-houses which do not match the reduction of crime”; and “unskilled personnel employed” at crime intelligence.
An independent source close to the Police Ministry echoed the sentiments contained in Mokushane’s documents, saying the “toxic stench” of suspended crime intelligence boss Richard Mdluli, along with the current acting police commissioner, had turned crime intelligence into “their own personal fiefdoms”.
Disgraced former Hawks head Berning Ntlemeza is said to be in cahoots with Mothiba and Mdluli. It is suspected that they misused crime intelligence resources for their own purposes.
“Mothiba has defied minister Mbalula from the very first day he was appointed acting national commissioner (in June)," according to a source at the Police Ministry.Mbalula said he was looking into the allegations about the conduct of crime intelligence and would be briefing President Jacob Zuma in due course.