File picture

Parliament - A police brigadier embroiled in a security clearance debacle and later found to have joined the police after being convicted of theft is still in the employ of the South African Police Service (SAPS), Members of Parliament (MPs) heard on Tuesday.

Briefing Parliament's portfolio committee on police, National Police Commissioner Khehla Sitole said crime intelligence brigadier Leonora Phetlhe was served with a suspension, but is challenging this.

"On Brigadier Phethle, firstly she is not fired. The process is not yet finalised," said Sitole.

"Criminally, the investigation is at an advanced stage and the docket is with the prosecution. Departmentally, it's in progress. She was supposed to be served with a letter of suspension and she was on leave. When she was back [from leave] she challenged [the suspension] on technicalities."

MPs were not impressed asking why someone with a criminal record was allowed in the SAPS in the first place.

Deputy national commissioner for human resource management, Bonang Mgwenya, blamed the lack of technology when Phethle was first employed.

"When this matter was raised, we then went into the records. Indeed we did find she had a conviction in 1997. However, when she was enlisted, the system at the time could not pick it up," said Mgwenya.

"She was enlisted two years after conviction. At the time our systems were not yet advanced. We have a number of systems in place now."

Mgwenya and Sitole said they would update the committee at a later stage on Phethle's fate.

Last year, it emerged in the same portfolio committee that Phethle had allegedly falsified the security clearance of acting Crime Intelligence boss Pat Mokushane.

Sitole and his team gave MPs an update on the backlog of security clearance of crime intelligence officers -- something needed for them to view top secret documents.

Of the 51 crime intelligence officers in management vetted, 29 have received top secret clearance while the issuing of clearance certificate of 22 others were still being processed.

African News Agency/ANA