“We condemn Ngcobo’s appointment in the strongest terms. For one of Zuma’s most trusted bodyguards to be elevated to lead South African Crime Intelligence shows just how far Zuma’s web of state capture continues to spread.” ~ Zakhele Mbhele DA Shadow Minister of Police
By Phephelaphi Dube: Director, Centre for Constitutional Rights
South Africa, like virtually all countries in the world, maintains a domestic intelligence service. The Constitution as such empowers intelligence services, including those of the defence force and the South African Police Service (SAPS). To this end, the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (DPCI), in accordance with the South African Police Service Act (SAPS Act) establishes a crime intelligence division whose mandate is “to gather, correlate, evaluate and analyse domestic intelligence, in order to identify any threat or potential threat to the security of the Republic or its people…”
Yet consider that the previous head of Crime Intelligence, Mulangi Mphego, was forced to resign in 2009, after he was accused of interfering with state witnesses in the corruption case against former National Police Commissioner, Jackie Selebi. Mphego’s successor, Richard Mdluli, was suspended in May 2011. This, after being arrested on a number of criminal charges, including murder, attempted murder, intimidation, kidnapping, assault and defeating the ends of justice. Major-General King Bhoyi Ngcobo featured briefly as acting crime intelligence head, post Mdluli.
Following Ngcobo’s brief stint, Major-General Pat Mokushane was appointed, but has recently been fired from the position. The acting National Police Commissioner admitted to Parliament that Mokushane lacked the requisite security clearance and that he was being investigated for running his own business from work. The new appointee in Mokushane’s place, Ngcobo, is no stranger to the post, and is back in the saddle of the Crime Intelligence division, with the same degree of controversy as his prior appointment in 2012. Having served the current President within the Presidential Protection Unit for a number of years, one would not be amiss to conclude that this is an appointment where patronage mattered above national interests.
It is apparent that all the appointees to the position thus far have been political appointments, with very little regard for their ability to discharge the mandate for which the position calls. Importantly, the Constitution – as does the Act – makes clear that domestic intelligence owes allegiance to the country and to the inhabitants of the country, and nowhere else. As things stand, the proximity of the Crime Intelligence heads to politicians, including the President, does little to reassure the South African public that the prevention and combatting of crime is their priority. The recently released State of Urban Safety Report, as read with crime statistics released by the SAPS, paints a picture of unabating and relentlessly high levels of crime against both people and property. The Institute for Security Studies (ISS) further posits that the failure of the Crime Intelligence division to effectively combat crime can be “attributed to a combination of large-scale fraud and corruption within the division, and the struggle for political control of this powerful intelligence institution”. This is true, considering the above charges facing Richard Mdluli.
Parliament, in terms of the Constitution, exercises an important oversight function of the Crime Intelligence division. However, such oversight is only conducted as a review mechanism. More so, parliamentary oversight is done after the unlawful or unethical conduct. This leaves no room for Parliament to intervene as a preventative measure, without infringing on the powers of the Minister of Police, who has the final responsibility for the functioning of the nation’s domestic intelligence.
As such, without political will, South African’s Crime Intelligence division will continue to witness the revolving door appointments of its leaders, which in turn affects the division’s ability to successfully combat crime. The nation lies vulnerable, but it is a self-inflicted vulnerability, which can be cured by the removal of political considerations from crime-fighting bodies. This must be coupled with a firm commitment to constitutional principles to guard against the politicisation of such bodies, and to ensure that only the best men and women are appointed to lead.
Zakhele Mbhele MP, DA Shadow Minister of Police
The DA will call for Police Minister, Fikile Mbalula, to implement the National Development Plan (NDP) by urgently convening a National Policing Board to review all police senior management. He also needs to urgently facilitate the selection process for the appointment of a permanent National Police Commissioner through this mechanism.
Such a board is imperative following the latest questionable appointment, that of Zuma loyalist, Major General King Bhoyi Ngcobo, as the Acting Head of Crime Intelligence late yesterday. This is a puzzling appointment given the previous announcement that Acting Police Commissioner Lt. Gen. would directly oversee the Crime Intelligence Division, which was also confirmed at the Police Portfolio Committee yesterday.
It is shocking that a former Head of VIP Protection Services who is a close Zuma confidant and someone under a cloud of allegations of submitting a fake matric certificate to the South African Police Service (SAPS) has been entrusted with the leadership of our country’s Crime Intelligence division.
We condemn Ngcobo’s appointment in the strongest terms. For one of Zuma’s most trusted bodyguards to be elevated to lead South African Crime Intelligence shows just how far Zuma’s web of state capture continues to spread.
This highly suspect appointment follows a string of dodgy senior appointments in Mbalula’s department:
• Previous Crime Intelligence Head, Pat Mokushane, did not have security clearance and was doing business with the state;
• A court ruled that Former Acting Hawks Head, Berning Ntlemeza, is “dishonest” and “lacking integrity” before he was even appointed, and that his appointment process was flawed; and
• Israel Kgamanyane, who was Acting Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID) Head while Robert McBride was on suspension and led a purge of senior IPID staff, was transferred after McBride’s return to the Hawks in a possibly irregular process and now heads up the Special Investigations Department at the Hawks Headquarters.
The NDP proposal recommends specifically that, “A national policing board should be established, with multi-sectoral and multidisciplinary expertise. It should set standards for recruiting, selecting, appointing and promoting police officials and police officers. The board should also develop a code of ethics and analyse the professional standing of policing, based on international norms and standards.”
The DA will not stand by while questionable and often incompetent appointments continue to seriously compromise the senior police management in our country, from the Hawks to the IPID and now to Crime Intelligence. Fit-for-purpose and ethical police leadership is the very least that the people of South Africa deserve going forward.
Mbalula needs to ensure this by implementing the NDP proposal and facilitating the National Police Commissioner selection process urgently. He simply cannot drag his feet any longer waiting for the SAPS Transformation Task Team under the Deputy Minister’s office to finish its processes.