Mthethwa probg Cele’s golden handshakes, appointments


Minister of Police Nathi Mthethwa is poised to strip the national police commissioner of discretionary powers to grant large retirement packages to top officers – especially those under criminal investigation by the service, The Times and Beeld newspapers report.

Mthethwa yesterday said that Section 35 of the South African Police Service (SAPS) Act had been abused for years by previous police chiefs to give millions of Rand in golden handshakes to police officers without consulting his office.

Addressing Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Police about his plans to solve management problems plaguing the police, Mthethwa said he would introduce amendments to the SAPS Act, with a specific focus on section 35. “This has been going on for years. It has been the culture of section 35 being implemented without informing the executive authority. What we have done now is that this is [too] huge a matter, it can’t be left to the national commissioner alone,” said Mthethwa.

Last month now-suspended police chief, General Bheki Cele, under pressure from the police committee on the matter, said 19 senior police officers had been paid out in the past two years under Section 35 – at a cost of R31-million. They included Gauteng crime intelligence boss Major General Joey Mabasa had received a golden handshake of R3.5 million, plus an extra six years in pension benefits – while he was being investigated in connection with allegations that he had been involved in the murder of strip club boss Lolly Jackson. Mabasa is also under investigation for allegedly having had corrupt links to fugitive Czech businessman Radovan Krejcir.

Mthethwa told Parliament he had ordered acting national police commissioner Nhlanhla Mkhwanazi to do away with such practices.

Beeld newspaper reports the minister also wants to tackle the practice under which the police chief can bypass normal staffing procedures and claim “extraordinary circumstances” in making appointments. The paper says the modus operandi was to advertise a post, withdraw the advertisement and than summarily make an appointment without holding interviews. Some 20 people benefitted from this under Cele’s tenure, Mthethwa said.

Business Day newspaper writes Mthethwa added the Auditor General, National Treasury and the Special Investigating Unit had been asked to investigate both the irregular spending in the police and the section 35 discharges. He continued he had requested an investigation of the bid adjudication committee which decided on the procurement of special equipment for police operations during last year’s Soccer World Cup. Also to be probed will be the spending of millions on national police day. The civilian police secretariat was working with the Treasury to determine whether police spending had been in compliance with the Public Finance Management Act.