South Africa

South Africa

Police Minister Nathi Nhleko implicated in Public Protector’s investigation

Police Minister Nathi Nhleko implicated in Public Protector’s investigation

He’s the magician of Nkandla, turning swimming pools and chicken coops into security features, the man who made sure the discredited Lieutenant-General Mthandazo Ntlemeza got the top job at the Hawks. Now Minister of Police, Nathi Nhleko, has been implicated in another scandal involving a woman, a former KZN Correctional Services deputy director and the mother of his “love child”, who was fired for failing to pitch up at work for a month and later re-employed at a salary of R1.5-million. By MARIANNE THAMM.

In 2006 Nkosinathi Nhleko was appointed regional Commissioner of Correctional Services KZN. He still occupied the position when the parole board approved an early release for President Zuma’s previous “financial advisor” and benefactor, Schabir Shaik, on dubious medical grounds.

Shaik was, we were told, gravely ill and at death’s door. He is currently still awaiting the Grim Reaper while routinely playing rounds of golf. It was while he was in the employ of the Department of Correctional Services that Nheklo apparently fathered a child with Smangele Ngobese, with whom he had shared an office. In 2012 Ngobese, who was a deputy director of special projects in the regional KZN offices of Correctional Services, was fired after failing to pitch up for work for more than a month.

On 11 June 2015 Zach Modise was appointed as the new National Commissioner of Correctional Services. Six weeks later Modise allegedly ordered KZN Regional Commissioner, Mnikelwa Nxele, to reinstate Ngobese, reportedly after Nhleko had pressured Modise as Ngobese had found herself in financial difficulty.

Nxele refused and in January this year was suspended “with immediate effect” by Modise on charges of “gross misconduct” and a “failure to implement instructions of the national office”. Meanwhile Ngobese was re-appointed on Modise’s orders as he was of the opinion that she had been unjustifiably fired. Ngobese was offered a salary of R1.5-million over three years.

Nxele took the Department of Correctional Services to the labour court where his suspension was ruled illegal. Modise then placed Nxele on “special leave”.

Nxele has recently lodged a complaint with the Public Protector’s Office requesting it to investigate not only Modise’s decision to reappoint Ngobese but also whether Modise’s own appointment was irregular, a further charge that he had issued orders that were illegal, irregular and unconstitutional.

Oupa Segalwe of the Public Protector’s office has confirmed to Daily Maverick that the complaint has been received and the office is engaged in a preliminary investigation.

Allegations of the alleged relationship between Ngobese and Nhleko are contained in documents submitted to the Public Service Commission and Public Protector in November 2015, and which also formed part of Nxele’s documents filed with the labour court.

The DCS, after Nxele’s suspension, responded in papers filed at the Durban Labour Court that Nxele had personalised the issue because of sour grapes after he had been overlooked for the job of National Commissioner.

The Department’s legal advisor, Mxolisi Zulu, said Nxele had been suspended because he also faced serious allegations that he had not followed the procurement process for a R10.6-million tender in 2012 and had also refused to attend interviews for senior management posts.

Nxele, in his responding papers, said that the 2012 procurement process had been vague and that he had refused to sit in on the interviews as the process had been irregular.

In 2009, Nhleko had been widely tipped as a possible successor to former police Commissioner Jackie Selebi, who was convicted on several charges of corruption. But it was Bheki Cele who was appointed to the position.

At the time the Mail and Guardian wrote that Nhleko had two major advantages; that he had fallen out of favour with former President Thabo Mbeki and that he hailed from Zuma’s home province.

There was speculation that he had incurred Mbeki’s displeasure over his handling of then-public protector Lawrence Mushwana’s report on an investigation into Mbeki’s rival and then-deputy Jacob Zuma, who had laid a complaint against former national director of public prosecutions Bulelani Ngcuka.”

Nhleko is believed to have handed Zuma the original report before it could be altered to protect Ngcuka.

Shortly after his appointment as Minister of Police in 2014 the DA described Nhleko as “an empty suit”.

Certainly his spirited defence of upgrades to President Jacob Zuma’s home while presenting his alternative Nkandla report, during a parliamentary committee sitting in KZN in June last year, helped seal his fate as one of the president’s expendables.

At that sitting Nhleko dismissed the Public Protector’s report on the irregular upgrades. He also concluded that the president was not required to repay any of the costs.

In February this year, addressing a full bench in the Constitutional Court application brought by the EFF and the DA, President Zuma’s lawyer, Jeremy Gauntlett, conceded that Nhleko’s report was irrelevant and that the president accepted Madonsela’s Nkandla report as binding.

Meanwhile, Nhleko has come out in full support of discredited Hawks head, Lieutenant General Mthandazo Ntlemeza, and the unit’s investigation of an alleged “rogue unit” at SARS. Defending the Hawks’ timing and the decision to send 27 questions to Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan shortly before he was to deliver his budget speech this year, Nhleko offered a mealie-mouthed nonsensical explanation involving a traffic cop and speeding journalists.

Nhleko also told journalists that Pretoria High Court Judge Elias Matojane had merely expressed an “opinion” that Ntlemeza was biased and had lied repeatedly under oath in a cast that set aside former Gauteng Hawks Head, Shadrack Sibiya’s suspension and that it was not a “finding”.

The judge’s view, according to Nhleko, was irrelevant when it came to his recommending Ntlemeza for the top post after former Hawks head, General Anwa Dramat, had been sidelined after refusing to hand dockets relating to sensitive investigations (read Nkandla) to former police commissioner Riah Phiyega.

Nhleko will no doubt, like the rest of the country, be keenly awaiting the Constitutional Court ruling on the Nkandla application on Thursday. Will he survive in the aftermath? DM

Photo: Minister of Police Nathi Nhleko during a media briefing update on “Rogue Unit” Investigations held at the Imbizo Media Centre in Cape Town, 2 Mar 2016. (Photo: GCIS)

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