The appointment of Colonel WS “Welcome” Mhlongo to the key position of acting Provincial Commander of the Serious Organised Crime unit in KwaZulu-Natal flies in the face of President Cyril Ramaphosa’s commitment to cleaning up criminal elements working within the law enforcement cluster and who had enabled State Capture.
Daily Maverick has in its possession a communication from Mhlongo, dated 14 June 2019, to DPCI Unit Commanders in Durban to attend a meeting on “serious and violent crime” and scheduled for 10am on 18 June 2019 on the 5th floor of the DPCI offices. Daily Maverick can confirm that the meeting took place and that Mhlongo was present.
Mhlongo signed off the notice from the Office of the Acting Provincial Commissioner of the DPCI’s KZN Serious Organised Crime unit as “Acting Provincial Commander”.
Daily Maverick mailed a question to DPCI spokesperson, Brigadier Hangwani Mulaudzi, asking why Mhlongo had been appointed to the position in the light of the serious allegations against the top cop and which have been set out at the Zondo Commission.
Hawks head, Lieutenant-General Godfrey Lebeya, Daily Maverick has reliably learnt, has also been alerted to Mhlongo’s role in alleged criminality and the flouting of the country’s laws.
Daily Maverick gave the DPCI until noon on 18 June (Tuesday) to respond, to which Mulaudzi responded, “Which appointment are you referring to? Please check with your sources that they do not feed you wrong information” – this despite our query detailing exactly which appointment was being referred to.
Daily Maverick then forwarded Mhlongo’s communication t0 DPCI Unit Commanders with regard to the meeting and had not heard back from Mulaudzi at the time of writing.
Mhlongo has replaced former KZN Provincial Commander, Brigadier Thembi Thembeka Dube, who resigned.
Mhlongo was implicated by former KwaZulu-Natal Hawks Head Johan Booysen in his testimony to the Zondo Commission for tipping off Thoshan Panday, a businessman and Zuma family associate, whom Mhlongo was tasked with investigating.
Panday faces several criminal probes relating to the misappropriation of around R60-million worth of contracts between the SAPS and his company Gold Coast Trading during the 2010 Fifa World Cup.
Panday, who had later attempted to bribe Booysen in a police sting, had “drastically inflated” the cost of mattresses, blankets and accommodation procured by SAPS, Booysen told the Zondo commission.
Booysen told Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo that Crime Intelligence had intercepted a call between Colonel Mhlongo and Panday while a fraud investigation was under way. It was Mhlongo, said Booysen, who was the only individual who could have informed Panday of the whereabouts of exhibits relating to the investigation into him.
In his testimony to the Zondo Commission, former NPA head Mzolisi Nxasana testified that efforts to oust him had begun as soon as he had been appointed to the position in 2013.
Nxasana told the commission how a “Colonel Mhlongo” from KwaZulu-Natal had allegedly been tasked by his predecessor, former acting NDPP, Nomgcobo Jiba, to dig up dirt on him.
He had been alerted to Jiba’s operation when Terence Joubert, then an NPA risk specialist, had provided Nxasana with an unsolicited affidavit and a recording of Joubert’s conversation with Mhlongo in which the plot to oust the new NPA head was discussed.
Booysen, in his testimony, had noted that Mhlongo has been linked to Jiba and added that it was “common cause” that Mhlongo had a close relationship with the later director of public prosecutions (DPP) of the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) in KwaZulu-Natal, Moipone Noko.
Noko has subsequently been transferred to head up the DPCI in North West.
Nxasana had been unaware, he told the Zondo Commission, that a campaign, allegedly driven by Jiba and former NPA special director, Lawrence Mrwebi, had been activated weeks before he set foot in the office in October 2013.
While still wrapping up his practice in September 2013, Nxasana told the commission, he had heard “there were people driving around” his former home town of Umlazi asking questions.
“These males were stopping people, asking around about me.
“It didn’t cause me stress because I thought it was part of the vetting process, but it gained momentum. When I arrived in office in October, I realised that it had been driven by people at the NPA.”
Nxasana then told the commission that Joubert and another former NPA colleague had independently told him of efforts under way to embarrass him so he could be removed.
“I received an unsolicited email from Terence Joubert, a risk specialist at the NPA based in Durban. The mail contained an affidavit in which he told me there was a campaign by Jiba to dig up dirt about me.”
The purpose of the mission was to embarrass him so Zuma could remove him and she would slip back into the top job.
The affidavit also stated that two policemen had been assigned to the provincial director of public prosecutions, then Moipoine Noko, and had been given cars by the office of the provincial police chief, Mammonye Ngobeni.
Ngobeni has also been implicated by Booysen for ordering the former KZN Hawks head to drop the investigation into Panday.
Joubert, Nxasana told the Zondo Commission, had played along and had recorded a conversation he had had with Mhlongo in which Mhlongo allegedly said Jiba had mandated him to go about investigating Nxasana.
Part of the plan was to try to pin Nxasana on Road Accident Fund fraud. Jiba had allegedly travelled to Durban around the time of Nxasana’s appointment.
“In terms of protocol, Joubert was responsible for security arrangements. He had to fetch her from King Shaka [airport] but after making arrangements, he received a call from Jiba’s secretary advising that he was not needed. Instead, Col Mhlongo would fetch her.”
Nxasana told the commission that Mhlongo had allegedly told Joubert that he didn’t trust “this new guy” and instructed him to find incriminating information on him.
Asked for comment on the matter, Booysen told Daily Maverick it was “laughable” that Mhlongo had been appointed acting Provincial Commander.
“What are the bona fides for Mhlongo’s appointment?” Booysen asked. DM
In other news...
July 18 marks Nelson Mandela day. All over the country, South African citizens devote 67 minutes to charitable causes in memory of Madiba. It's a great initiative and one of those few occasions in South Africa where we come together as a nation in pursuit of a common cause. An annual 67 minutes isn't going to cut it though.
In the words of Madiba: "A critical, independent and investigative free press is the lifeblood of any democracy."
Every day Daily Maverick investigates and exposes the deep rot of state capture and corruption but we need your help. Without our readers' support we simply won't survive. We created Maverick Insider as a membership platform where our readers can become part of our community while ensuring that we can keep doing the investigations that we do and, crucially, that our articles remain free to everyone that reads them. Sign up to Maverick Insider this Mandela Month and make that meaningful contribution last longer than 67 minutes.For whatever amount you choose, you can support Daily Maverick and it only takes a minute.
"What magic are you who dies and still lives on?" ~ Lebo Mashile