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Frank Talk: Minister Nathi Nhleko And The Scum-Filled Police Service He Leads

The police minister might be brave enough to face the public, but he sits atop a ruined police service populated by utter scum.

23/01/2017 04:58 SAST | Updated 23/01/2017 07:44 SAST
Nardus Engelbrecht / AFP / Getty Images
South African Police Minister Nathi Nhleko briefs the media on the president's Nkandla homestead project in Cape Town on May 28, 2015.

Police Minister Nathi Nhleko is a rather affable fellow. Last month, he agreed to be my guest on my Power FM show and spent almost three hours taking calls from listeners, including those who told him to his face that they had no time for him and that given the chaos in the higher echelons of the police and the bad publicity the police have received, he must quit. It is not often that ministers in the eye of the storm (as the police ministry is) would subject themselves to a two and half hour public grilling, where they may face embarrassing questions including about some dirty laundry about their girlfriends for that matter. So I really think he is an affable fellow indeed.

It is not often where a minister insists on taking the case number and phone numbers of citizens on air and committing to resolve their issues. He scores high on PR, including a compliment from one of my tough and regular callers Basil in Boksburg who underscored the fact that the minister can: "Stay calm under fire, a trait that many of us lack."

Affable as he is, Nhleko is surrounded by the scum of the earth in every conceivable way. Starting with the head of the Hawks Berning Ntlemeza, who has been inexplicably appointed for a seven year term, a term that given his age, would take him way over his retirement age before he could dip his hat. The question practically asks itself: were no other suitable beings to occupy such a strategic position?

The minister was at pains to point out that the judges remarks that Ntlemeza was a blue-faced liar was not an order but "mere remarks" that did not take a lot into account. He is more concerned the fellows thirty years experience, which by the way included a shady past in the apartheid police establishment. And so the case brought by the Freedom Under Law seeking a court order declaring his appointment irrational doesn't really bother the affable minister.

Antonio Muchave / Sowetan / Gallo Images
Hawks boss Berning Ntlemeza

Then you have Richard Mdluli, the head of crime intelligence who has been accused of various nefarious crimes, including conspiracy to commit murder. He has been on suspension for four years and this is what the Minister has inherited. He has never tried to speed up the disciplinary process insisting that even the police have to follow process. Strangely he claims that the matter of crime intelligence leadership has never been discussed with the President which again raises the question: What have the Minister of police and the President been discussing since 2014? If they are not discussing crime intelligence, what else counts as important? The fact that we have had no permanent leadership in an area of such crucial importance as crime intelligence doesn't really bother the affable Minister.

The minister, in agreement with a caller from Hammanskraal, reckons that the security cluster of which he is part is a target of external and internal forces bent on destabilising government. The caller suggested that this is the reason the media is targeting the likes of his chief of staff and Ntlemeza for vilification. Except that his chief of staff is a convicted fraudster who spent time in jail for fraud and according to a document leaked to Power FM, is brandishing a fake Identity document. What does that have to do with "forces" bent on "destabilisation"? I am certainly confused.

Who can forget the Nkandla video, declaring a swimming pool to be a fire pool? He is unfazed. He reckons he is not one of the ministers being reprimanded by the President, he reckons he does not know whether the President likes his report or not. He reckons a swimming pool is still a fire pool.

Forensic investigator Paul O'Sullivan who called in from London, revealed that the chief of staff was operating under a false name and had falsified identity documents. This was news to the minister, who undertook to follow up on the matter as soon as possible. But a big question mark remains in his office. He is an affable chap, this minister, who reckons before this fellow came to work for him he worked for three other government departments, so he didn't come straight from jail into his office. I suppose that makes it a tad better that at the very heart of law enforcement sits such not-so-clean guys.

Veli Nhlapo / Sowetan / Gallo Images
Former police crime intelligence boss Richard Mdluli on October 7, 2014 at the magistrate's court in Palm Ridge, South Africa.

With regards to his fight with the IPID head, Robert McBride is clarified by the fact the courts pronounced on procedural not substantive matters. So he is back in parliament and wants the head of the IPID boss on a platter. He was not fazed by any of my questions in that regard. I have my doubts.

Remember that Robert McBride's sin was that he changed a report that pointed a finger at the former head of the hawks in a rendition scandal. Nhleko says lives were lost and he is having none of it. The human resource balance sheet under him is a suspended police commissioner, an acting police commissioner under a cloud, a lying head of the Hawks and an accused IPID head. Oh, and for good measure, a fraudster as a chief of staff. As if this is not enough, some 1,500 police men and women are convicted murderers and rapists and continue to be on the pay roll of the police!

Quite frankly, considering this gathering of gangsters, how can the minister still absolutely believe that the men and women in blue are full of integrity? And that these rotten potatoes that have come to light will not make the whole bag rot? With all the affability in the world I think the Minister is expecting a bit too much from the public when time is spent on these high level shenanigans, when car hijacking murder and tale are on the rise. He reckons communities must come to the party and stop beating up their wives and buying stolen goods. I agree with him but can the police lead by some example?

Can the police not hire General Bethuel Zuma, who has been found guilty of drunk driving, to be the provincial commissioner in Mpumalanga?

Who can forget the Nkandla video, declaring a swimming pool to be a fire pool? He is unfazed. He reckons he is not one of the ministers being reprimanded by the President, he reckons he does not know whether the President likes his report or not. He reckons a swimming pool is still a fire pool and that he stands by his report and everyone else including the courts must do themselves a favour and read the fifty pages of facts...

But when all is said and done Nhleko, he is an affable chap.