/ 9 January 2024

Mpumalanga police spokesperson suspended

Selvy Mohlala
Brigadier Selvy Mohlala. File photo

Heads have started to roll in national police commissioner Fannie Masemola’s ongoing high-level investigation into Mpumalanga top cop Lieutenant General Semakaleng Manamela’s alleged criminal activities, with the suspension of provincial spokesperson Brigadier Selvy Mohlala for “misconduct”. 

According to a letter dated 8 January and signed by Lieutenant General Lineo Ntshiea, the deputy national commissioner responsible for support services, Mohlala’s suspension followed a 28 December interview he gave broadcaster Newzroom Afrika defending Manamela

The Mail & Guardian reported on 25 December that Manamela faced a board of inquiry on whether she is “fit and proper” to be Mpumalanga’s top cop after allegedly showering herself with gifts worth R2 million to celebrate her July 2021 appointment, and supposedly running a money laundering scheme in the province. 

Three days later, Mohlala commented on Newzroom Afrika that Manamela “did nothing wrong by receiving the gifts” despite an ongoing investigation into her actions, according to Ntshiea’s letter. 

Ntshiea added that Mohlala “undermined” Masemola’s authority by speaking publicly and allegedly “failed to carry out a lawful instruction issued by the national commissioner on 14 October 2022 that all matters relating to the provincial commissioner [of] Mpumalanga should only be communicated by [the] head office”. 

“The decision to suspend you was informed by the seriousness of the allegations and the fact that your presence in the workplace has the potential to compromise the disciplinary process,” Ntshiea wrote. 

National police spokesperson Brigadier Athlenda Mathe neither confirmed nor denied Mohlala’s suspension, saying: “This is an internal matter between [the] employer and employee and, as such, will not be discussed on media platforms.” 

Mohlala’s disciplinary troubles have exposed an alleged leadership crisis in the Mpumalanga police service — with more claims of senior officers allegedly disrespecting the provincial commissioner — related to supposed ANC factional battles that Masemola is accused of being involved in. 

The M&G’s 25 December report, based on a dossier seen by the publication, stated that police generals allegedly refused to protect eMalahleni mayor Conny Nkalitshana in defiance of Manamela during a service delivery protest in May last year. Nkalitshana has since been removed as mayor.

This week, senior Mpumalanga officers close to the provincial commissioner released more accusations, claiming Masemola assisted Manamela’s supposed enemies to avoid being taken for disciplinary action for allegedly undermining her. 

A dossier compiled by the senior officers said: “We call upon the Mpumalanga ANC leadership to be selfish about the deployment of people who don’t love this province, but they are here to make money and go. We love Mpumalanga and the ANC cannot fail to show leadership when we know who are the devils and witches that destroy everything we are trying to build.”

Mathe denied there were conflicts between the province’s top police officers.