Durban - KwaZulu-Natal prison boss Mnikelwa Nxele has been suspended, but Correctional Services said his suspension is not related to allegations that he accepted bribes from controversial prisons security firm Bosasa.
Nxele, the department’s KZN regional commissioner, was implicated in the Commission of Inquiry into State Capture after Bosasa’s former chief operations officer, Angelo Agrizzi, told the commission that Nxele received payments to the value of R57500 a month.
The payments were allegedly linked to a plot to “place undue pressure” on former Department of Correctional Services (DCS) national commissioner Vernie Petersen in 2007.
Agrizzi told the commission of inquiry into state capture that a Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union (Popcru) official, known only as “Sbu”, was part of a group that was paid a R1million-a-month bribe to influence Petersen to co-operate with Bosasa.
According to Agrizzi, in 2007 when Petersen was appointed national commissioner, he (Agrizzi), attempted to communicate with him about possible future ventures, but Petersen was not interested.
He said the payment to Popcru general secretary “Sbu”, former national commissioner Khulekani Sithole and Nxele was later reduced to R700 000 a month.
Agrizzi said the payments to the team decreased in 2008 after one of Bosasa’s companies, Sondolo IT, lost a contract for the staffing of control rooms at correctional services facilities.
But Agrizzi alleged that Bosasa continued to pay Nxele R57 500 a month for his influence in KZN.
Agrizzi recalled one meeting at the Intercontinental Hotel at OR Tambo International Airport, where he handed money to Nxele.
On Thursday, Nxele said that his suspension had nothing to do with the allegations emanating from the commission.
He told The Mercury he would send comments regarding the allegations via email - however, he did not respond by the time of publishing and did not answer numerous calls on Thursday night.
Department spokesperson Logan Maistry confirmed Nxele’s “precautionary suspension”, saying it was the culmination of a process that commenced early this month.
“As this matter relates to an employment relationship, DCS is unable to provide further details. The process relating to the precautionary suspension commenced before testimony relating to DCS at the Commission of Inquiry into State Capture,” Maistry said.
He said that the department respected the mandate of the commission. “In this regard, DCS has and will continue to co-operate with all law enforcement agencies, as well as other relevant entities,” he said.