National police commissioner Riah Phiyega. File picture: Ian Landsberg

Johannesburg - National police commissioner Riah Phiyega is being probed, along with the entire leadership of the SAPS. Police Minister Nathi Nhleko has established a special committee, described as “a reference group”, to investigate issues that are the responsibility of Phiyega as the accounting officer of the police.

Other issues that are being investigated also fall within the purview of the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid).

The group’s terms of reference are to, among other things, investigate:

* All the appointments, suspensions and disciplinary and criminal proceedings involving senior management.

* Alleged involvement of police officers in illegal renditions, problems in crime intelligence, as well as problems the SAPS has faced in its transformation process.

The committee, established in terms of the National Police Act, is expected to report back to the minister by the end of December.

Among other issues that the team will investigate are allegations that Phiyega alerted Western Cape Provincial police commissioner Arno Lamoer about a probe into his alleged links with drug lords.

An insider said: “It will also investigate the matter involving Phiyega and the Western Cape provincial commissioner. It’s going to look at all the facts and advise the minister.”

The group is tasked with investigating a range of issues in the police, such as allegations that top management have been targeted and trumped-up charges sometimes brought against them “in order to get rid of them”.

Nhleko’s spokesman Musa Zondi, said once the team had completed the investigation, they would make a recommendation to Nhleko. “He can choose to implement or not to implement the recommendations.”

Impeccable sources told The Sunday Independent that the team would also probe the suspension of Crime Intelligence Unit boss Richard Mdluli.

One of the sources added: “The team will look at all the outstanding human resources issues. “For example, the issue of Major-General Johan Booysen. It is very clear that he is being targeted.

“There is also Major-General Chris Ngcobo, who has been placed on special leave for more than a year, and there is still no sign that the matter will be resolved any time soon. How many people are on suspension, and why are their cases taking longer to be resolved?

“There is a lot of unhappiness within the police.

“These are all the matters that are going to be investigated by this team,” the source said.

Booysen was suspended in August 2012 when he and members of Durban’s Organised Crime Unit were arrested on charges that they were running a “death squad”.

In March this year, all charges against him were withdrawn after he successfully challenged his prosecution under the racketeering laws.

Booysen has recently been cleared of any wrongdoing in a report penned by Nazeer Cassim SC, who said the charges against him were manufactured because KwaZulu-Natal Provincial police commissioner Mmamonnye Ngobeni wanted him gone.

Nhleko said the decision to form a reference group was informed by a three-month intensive programme in which he interacted “with a range of stakeholders across the entire country”.

The reference group comprises six members, headed by a convener who reports to Nhleko. Zondi would not be drawn on the names of the people who have been appointed to conduct the investigation, but he was quick to point out that they were not from the police.

“They are from all walks of life, and they are experts in their own fields.”

When Nhleko made the announcement earlier this month, he said the reference group had been set up to look into various issues affecting the performance of the police.

He said: “A number of legal and disciplinary issues and long-outstanding matters must be resolved as a matter of urgency, as they impact negatively on the morale, efficiency, effectiveness and image of the service.”

Phiyega’s conduct around Lamoer was the subject of an investigation after Crime Intelligence laid charges of defeating ends of justice.

This was after Crime Intelligence operatives picked up Phiyega’s conversations with Lamoer, during which she made him aware of investigations involving him arising out of allegations linking him to various drug lords.

Lamoer’s conversations were legally recorded by operatives monitoring his calls, after they allegedly showed that he was associated with a suspected criminal who was under investigation.

After an investigation which lasted for several months, Ipid submitted the case docket to the National Prosecuting Authority for a decision. However, the NPA decided not to press charges against Phiyega.

However, it recommended that the SAPS consider an internal investigation.

Phiyega’s spokesman Solomon Makgale referred inquiries to Zondi.

Repeated attempts to contact Phiyega personally for comment were unsuccessful, as she did not answer her cellphone.

Mabuza is also the chairman of the South African Boards of Sheriffs. DTI spokesman Sidwell Medupi said the department would not comment on the details or make-up of Ithuba until negotiations with the company had been concluded.

These were expected to be concluded at the end of next month, and if negotiations were not successful discussion would be held with the current operator Gidani.

The DA this week said it would conduct its own “due diligence investigation” to ensure that Ithuba was capable of running the lotto, that it was above reproach and that its directors have no connection to any political party or organisation.

The party had already raised suspicions about Ithuba, saying its efforts to find information about the company were fruitless and the phone call made to the only phone number available reached the Nelspruit Sheriffs’ office.

“If successful, Ithuba will win a licence worth billions. Over the term of the outgoing operator, the lotto reportedly generated revenues of more than R6bn per year.

“Given the scandals that have surrounded the lotto over the last decade, the new operator must be appointed transparently,” said DA trade and industry spokesman Geordin Hill-Lewis.

 

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Sunday Independent