TWO MEN with strong ANC links are frontrunners to become the next chief of the Ekurhuleni Metro Police Department.
One of them is Hlula Msimang, 42, the son of former ANC treasurer Mendi Msimang.
A former National Intelligence Agency and South African Secret Service operative, Msimang is also a former Tshwane Metro police chief.
Also in the running is 46-year-old Gregory Thulari, chairperson of Umkhonto we Sizwe Military Veterans Association (MKMVA) in Ekurhuleni. He has been a deputy director of Metro police since 2005.
The two have been shortlisted to replace controversial former EMPD chief Robert McBride, who was fired last year.
McBride's contract was terminated last September, two months before it expired. At the time he was on special leave, facing a charge of drunken driving.
When the xenophobia attacks flared up in May last year McBride reported for duty and joined Metro police officers who were calming residents in Ekurhuleni.
But the situation became violent when McBride tried to address incensed residents.
Mayor Ntombi Mekgwe sacked him for defying orders to stay on special leave.
Msimang lost his Tshwane post in June last year because of "restructuring". His contract was supposed to expire in 2010.
He also caused a stir when he publicly supported former national police commissioner Jackie Selebi.
Sources said that Mekgwe was supposed to announce Msimang's appointment during a council meeting last week when she presented new city manager Khaya Ngema and the chief financial officer Gilbert Myeza.
Mekgwe told the meeting that "we are finalising the process to appoint a new chief of police".
Sources told Sowetan yesterday that Metro police officers and members of the mayoral committee apparently objected to Msimang's appointment, saying they preferred Thulari, who had been with the Metro police since inception and rose through the ranks.
A strong lobby of former MK cadres also support Thulari's appointment and want the ANC to show confidence in the former guerrillas.
Thulari, a student leader in the 1980s, joined MK in Angola where he was exiled.
Before joining the Metro police, he was with the police crime intelligence unit.
Mekgwe's spokesperson, Prince Hamnca, said: "I cannot confirm speculation about people who have been shortlisted."