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Questions over ‘removal’ of NC top cop

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Acting SAPS provincial commissioner, Major-General Phiwe Mnguni, was apparently instructed to vacate his office with immediate effect on Wednesday this week.

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THE ACTING Northern Cape SAPS provincial commissioner, Major-General Phiwe Mnguni, was apparently instructed to vacate his office with immediate effect on Wednesday this week.

This is despite Mnguni being “highly recommended” to fill the vacancy for the position of provincial commissioner.

The ANC provincial secretary, Deshi Ngxanga, has requested the deputy president to consider Mnguni for the post.

“The provincial officials of the ANC support the name of Mnguni. Please be so kind and support us in our endeavours to get him appointed into this position,” Ngxanga said in a message.

In reply, it was indicated that the deputy president was in a meeting but that he would pass on the message.

“I also had a nice discussion with comrade (Bheki) Cele.”

On Wednesday, the national commissioner, General Khehla Sithole, rejected a request to defer Mnguni’s retirement.

Mnguni was informed that his date of retirement would begin on December 1.

Mnguni was appointed as the acting provincial commissioner in September after the contract of the former provincial commissioner, Lieutenant-General Risimati Shivuri, was not extended.

The chairperson of the Northern Cape Civics Organisation, Ross Henderson, stated that Mnguni was a skilled and seasoned police officer with over 40 years of experience.

“He was given an expectation that he would be given the position when he was appointed as the acting provincial commissioner. Now he has suddenly been left in the cold. He is not ready to retire as he still wishes to fight crime and corruption and finalise investigations involving high-ranking police officers who are linked to criminal syndicates,” said Henderson yesterday.

“Mnguni was in the process of setting up crime-busting structures in the community and had a good working relationship with the community. He was making good inroads in reducing the incidence of violent crimes in the Province. His removal cannot be justified.”

Henderson added that Mnguni had also applied for the vacant position of provincial commissioner, which was advertised externally.

“Surely if he was considered too old for the post, his application would not have been considered. At the very least, he should have been allowed to act until the post was filled. We call on the police to reverse this decision and we will support him should he choose to challenge his removal in a court of law.”

Henderson pointed out that at 68, the Minister of Police, Bheki Cele, was still in a Cabinet position.

“Why are officials who are performing their duties effectively and have clean track records being removed? We wonder if the ANC will intervene in reversing this decision as he was their preferred candidate?”

ANC provincial spokesperson Tshepo Louw said the party was not involved in appointments at the SAPS.

“We want to keep it as such,” he added.

Louw said that Ngxanga had merely put in “a good word” for Mnguni as he was serving as the deputy provincial commissioner at the time.

“The ANC will not die for positions and will not force any appointment. There will be no further involvement in the matter.”

Louw stated that the ANC did not get involved in “internal politics”.

“We do not know who will be appointed to fill the vacancy.”

National police spokesperson Brigadier Vish Naidoo indicated that Mnguni had reached the age of 60 in November.

“He was expected to work until the last day of that month before retiring on December 1. This is in line with the SAPS prescripts, which clearly indicate that a police member should retire at the age of 60 years.”

Naidoo stated that Major-General H de Waal had been appointed by the national commissioner to act as the provincial commissioner for the Northern Cape until further notice.