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DURBAN – KWAZULU-NATAL police commissioner Lieutenant-General Nhlanhla Mkhwanazi has come out in defence of a colleague who was allegedly caught in possession of a stolen Mercedes-Benz with a fake registration plate in February 2019.

The commissioner had initially refused to respond to questions from the Daily News on allegations of the police’s reluctance to open criminal charges and act against senior KZN police manager Brigadier Shireen Albert. She was apparently found guilty on two charges of police misconduct by an internal police investigation.
Mkhwanazi said that after deliberations by provincial police management, the police had initially decided not to act on the recommendation to charge Albert. However, this subsequently changed following the Daily News article published earlier this month on the internal police report.

“The SAPS disciplinary regulations require that a commander must appoint an investigator to establish the fact of a violation of any SAPS regulations and, if proven, a disciplinary hearing must be conducted,” said provincial police spokesperson Colonel Thembeka Mbele.

“The provincial commissioner appointed a senior officer to investigate, and a report with recommendations was submitted. SAPS management deliberated on the outcome thereof and could not justify the continuation of the matter,” said Mbele.

A police investigation report, which the Daily News has seen, was compiled by Brigadier B Sibiya and finalised in April 2019. It had recommended that two charges of gross misconduct be brought against Brigadier Albert for “contravening the SAPS disciplinary regulations, and for conducting herself in a disgraceful and or/unacceptable manner when she was found in possession of a stolen vehicle”.

Mbele said that following the Daily News article, Mkhwanazi had directed that a criminal case be registered and a criminal investigation be conducted into the alleged stolen motor vehicle purchased by Brigadier Albert.

“Major-General Vukani Mgobhozi, the deputy provincial commissioner, is overseeing such a criminal investigation, which is at an advanced stage, and arrests are imminent.”
Mbele refused to disclose why the police investigation report recommendations were not initially implemented.

Brigadier Albert had not commented by the time of publication. In the Daily News’s previous report on the incident, she maintained her innocence and said she would provide documents proving she was not being investigated for the alleged misconduct. To date, the documents have not been provided.

The Mercedes-Benz GL200 with fake registration was apparently reported stolen in Chatsworth in 2016.

MP and DA spokesperson on police matters Andrew Whitfield said there was a culture of ill-discipline in the SAPS, as well as a lack of consequence management.

“This is well established and can be seen from the statistics on the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid) cases, where the SAPS does not co-operate,” Whitfield said.

Blessed Gwala, MPL and IFP provincial spokesperson for Community Safety and Liaison, said the IFP called on Ipid to institute an urgent investigation into these allegations.
“As the IFP, we are very concerned about allegations of police officers colluding with criminals. Police officers are the custodians of law and order. They are responsible for protecting members of the community, in a fair and just manner. Police officers accused of involvement in any criminal activities must be prosecuted to the full extent of the law. We cannot allow the SAPS to become a nest of criminals and lose the confidence of the community.“

Gwala said serious questions should be asked – why was Brigadier Albert treated with kid gloves? Why was she being protected?

“No one is above the law. All are equal before the law – even SAPS officers. The IFP calls on the Department of Community Safety and Liaison, together with SAPS senior leadership in KwaZulu-Natal, and KZN Police Commissioner, Lieutenant-General Nhlanhla Mkhwanazi, to weed out corrupt police officers. These officers are frustrating the government’s efforts to fight crime,” he said.
Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union provincial secretary Nthabeleng Molefe had not commented by the time of publication, but had earlier expressed shock and said the union would demand answers from the SAPS.


Article written by: Thabo Makwakwa

Photo credit: News24


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