THE SA Police Service in Limpopo has been implicated in allegations of corruption, irregular appointments of senior police officials and questionable business dealings with illegal immigrants at the Beitbridge border post in Musina.
Recently, non-profit organisation the Conty Lebepe Foundation wrote to Police Minister Bheki Cele calling for an investigation into alleged corrupt activities and the appointment of “unqualified” administrators and heads in Limpopo.
The foundation has further accused a high-ranking official stationed in the Vhembe district, whose name is known to Sunday Independent, of murder, as well as shielding criminals and covering up cases involving the smuggling of illicit cigarettes from Zimbabwe.
A letter addressed to Cele and seen by Sunday Independent raises concerns that some police stations in the province – the Musina and Westernburg police stations in particular – allegedly appointed station commanders with unresolved criminal records, while others failed to meet the minimum requirements for their positions.
The foundation’s national coordinator, Conty Lebepe, alleges in the letter that Makhado and Mutale police stations, in the Vhembe district and Mankweng in the Capricorn district, have appointed “unqualified” heads.
Lebepe highlights case number 82-08-2021, involving an alleged cover up of illicit cigarettes, and alleges that two Zimbabwean businessmen, whose names are known to Sunday Independent, are complicit.
The letter reads, in part: “We learnt of a case at Musina police station, of case number 82-08-2021, where a suspect was arrested in a case involving attempted murder, while it was discovered that he was an illegal immigrant, but officers loyal to him instead registered the case as fraud to water down the charges.
“His accomplice, name also listed in the letter, who is also an alleged illegal immigrant dealing in illicit cigarettes and widely known in the area, is still not arrested, despite being in the country, and is protected by senior officials in the region.”
The letter further goes into detail about criminal activities taking place in the province, which it alleges the police are aware of, but protect the criminals in exchange for money.
The letter adds: “All the recently-made appointments of the station commanders in Limpopo must be investigated, and if possible reviewed as a matter of urgency…for the SAPS to regain public trust and confidence, as this type of conduct and behaviour needs an urgent intervention.”
The foundation called on Cele to investigate the allegations, saying they could compromise the prevention of crime and the safety of Limpopo residents.
“The question is how are we expected to believe that people involved in such unlawfulness can uphold the law?
“For the SAPS to regain public trust and confidence... an urgent intervention is needed,” the letter concluded.
National police spokesperson Colonel Athlenda Mathe referred questions to SAPS provincial spokesperson Brigadier Hlulani Mashaba, who, when contacted for comment, said they were aware of the claims and were investigating them.
“The provincial commissioner of the South African Police Service in Limpopo, Lieutenant -General Thembi Hadebe, has noted the complaints against officers in Vhembe District.
“The allegations are also serious in nature and therefore the provincial commissioner has instructed the allegations be probed…once the investigations are through, we will accordingly report back,” Mashaba said.
The Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid) said they were not aware of the matter.
“I am not aware of the allegations and I am still waiting for the province to respond to me,” Ipid spokesperson Phaladi Shuping told Sunday Independent.
The letter comes against the backdrop of a case involving three high-ranking Limpopo police officers, including former provincial commissioner Jim Ledwaba.
Major-General Nyikeni Jackson Baloyi and Major-General Hlagodi Christina Morakaladi, along with the retired commissioner, stand accused of fraud and corruption.