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Head of SAPS legal division faces internal probe

The head of the police’s legal division — fingered for incompetence in a 2006 secret report commissioned by then safety and security minister Charles Nqakula — is being probed by new Minister of Safety and Security Nathi Mthetwa.

Mthetwa promised to clamp down on corruption in the police at his hastily convened crime summit in Midrand this week. Safety and security spokesperson Trevor Bloem confirmed that divisional commissioner Lindiwe Mthimkulu is facing an internal probe.

‘Commissioner Mthimkulu is currently the subject of an internal departmental investigation, the details of which — as is universal practice — cannot be divulged. The conclusion of said investigation is pending,” said Bloem.

The confirmation of this investigation comes after a report in the Sunday Times that the ministry of safety and security spent close to R8-million on a report prepared by leading law firm Edward Nathan Sonnenbergs (ENS) 18 months ago.

Bloem confirmed that R7,554-million had been spent on the report, which was commissioned by Nqakula.

The Sunday Times reported that Nqakula failed to act after the report revealed that the legal division was in shambles. Mthimkulu’s management style and her lack of skills were identified as some of the biggest contributors to the disarray in the division.

Speaking through police spokesperson Selby Bokaba, Mthimkulu said that she had not been given an opportunity to make ‘representations” on the allegations leveled against her.

The report shows that Mthimkulu was interviewed by ENS forensic investigators as part of the study and was also consulted, along with her senior managers, on the implications of the findings for her department.

The ENS report, which is in the possession of the M&G, is titled Litigation Due Diligence Investigation in Respect of Claims by and against the South African Police Services. It investigated the functioning of a division headed by Mthimkulu, which reports directly to the national police commissioner.

However police National Commissioner Jackie Selebi says he is not privy to the damning due diligence report. Speaking to the M&G this week Selebi, who is on extended leave pending his trial in April next year on corruption charges, said that he had not seen the report.

When pressed on the issue of whether as the chief accounting officer for the police he should at least have had sight of the document, Selebi merely repeated his statement.

Nqakula commissioned the report in October 2006 for completion by the end of January 2007.

The main objectives of the investigation were whether decisions ‘to defend or settle” regarding claims against the police had been taken ‘in the best interests of the Ministry and the SAPS”; the efficiency and appropriateness of the processes leading to the defence or settling of claims; and whether these decisions were taken ‘at all times by the relevant authority”.

ENS’s James Haydock confirmed to the M&G that he was part of the team that carried out the investigation, along with colleagues Johan Engelbrecht, Melanie Murcott, Andrew Staude and Jabulani Gwebu.

The Sunday Times story, the M&G can reveal, prompted the Democratic Alliance’s safety and security spokesperson, Dianne Kohler-Barnard, to write a letter to Parliament’s portfolio committee chair, Makhotso Sotyu, requesting that Mthetwa be hauled in front of the committee.

‘It is imperative that this due diligence report is presented to the Portfolio Committee for urgent review, and that the Minister of Safety and Security is called before the committee to explain why nothing [has] been done to implement the recommendations since the report was completed,” writes Kohler-Barnard. Sotyu has confirmed receipt of the letter.

The DA also sent a list of questions to Parliament regarding the saga, wanting to know among other things why action had not been taken against Mthimkulu.

The questions followed earlier one the DA posed to Mthetwa. His answer revealed that Mthimkulu had allowed a ‘personal friend” — one Mr Motsepe — to use her officially allocated state vehicle against SAPS regulations and standing orders. In his reply dated November 11 Mthetwa said the matter was under investigation.

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