A Hawks police officer who has been on suspension for more than two years has accused his bosses of being in cahoots with alleged criminals to frustrate him.
Muzi Malinga, a warrant officer within the Organised Crime Unit in Pretoria, said he was uncertain about his future and that his troubles have caused his health to deteriorate.
Malinga said it all began in July 2013 when he was assigned to a fraud case by his then senior, Colonel Lesitja Senona, where two suspects had purchased a Range Rover and a BMW 3 Series at a dealership in Benoni using fraudulent documents.
Malinga and three other officers from the Asset Forfeiture Unit and Cyber Crime obtained a search and seizure warrant to conduct an operation at the residences of the suspects, one in northern Johannesburg and the other in Pretoria.
“During the operation I received an instruction from Senona to let one of the suspects keep their vehicle and that it would be repossessed the next day,” he said.
“This was out of the ordinary but we had to follow the instruction.”
While investigations into the case were ongoing, Malinga alleges he was alerted by Masocha Ntlhamu, a detective warrant officer within the Integrity Management Unit, about an extortion investigation which had been launched against him.
When his investigation had been completed, the suspects were placed under arrest in November 2013.
In February 2014, Malinga said he received a message from KG Motlhamme, a lieutenant-colonel from the Johannesburg Organised Crime Unit, informing him that he was being sought by police on charges of corruption and he was asked to hand himself over.
The charge sheet accused him and three other officers who had been part of the search and seizure operation of attempting to extort R100 000 from one of the suspects.
In a police statement seen by the Sunday Tribune, the suspect alleged he had already made payments of various amounts to the three officers who were with Malinga at his premises. These payments were allegedly made to make the case “disappear”.
The suspect said since his house had been searched, he had been in constant communication with Malinga and that they had agreed on the dates which he would deliver the rest of the cash the officers had demanded.
However, Malinga disputed the allegations saying they had been fabricated with assistance from the police. He said he had not played any role in the extortion and that his seniors were protecting the suspect.
“A warrant of arrest was issued and I was arrested. In August 2015, I was then placed on suspension and months went by without a disciplinary hearing. I had to approach the Safety and Security Sectoral Bargaining Council (SSSBC) to intervene,” he said.
His suspension was lifted in October 2016 in a letter signed by General Loyiso Matakata, but when he returned to work he was instructed by Motlhamme to go back home until further notice, without any documentation authorising the extended suspension.
“I have evidence that could exonerate me but it seems every door I knocked at is closed,” said Malinga. “I have been to court 27 times and the matter keeps being postponed.”
He said he had to move back to KZN because he was not allowed to work and he has to travel to Pretoria for his court case, which has become costly. His application for a cross-transfer was also denied pending the court ruling. “It’s frustrating and I no longer have a lawyer. I am ready to cross-examine all witnesses so I can clear my name,” he said.
“I am now seeing a psychologist as well as a psychiatrist because I am not coping. I have been at home for years and what worries me is that they can stop my salary at any time. I want the matter to be resolved and I want to go back to work,” said Malinga.
Brigadier Hangwani Mulaudzi, Hawks spokesperson, said he could not comment as the matter was before the court.
Khomotso Mosoane confirmed that the SSSBC had intervened in Malinga’s case but could not comment or provide any details.