Jobs-for-pals outcry gathers steam

Simon Nare

Simon Nare

Embattled Ekurhuleni metro police chief, Robert McBride, approved a six-months leave for one of his cronies to moonlight as a security guard in Iraq, it emerged at the weekend.

As the "jobs-for-pals" scandal that has erupted around the McBride unravels, more allegations are surfacing.

Last week, Sowetan reported damning claims that he hired close friends, some apparently with criminal records, as traffic officers, despite their not being trained.

Now it has emerged that the metro chief approved a six months leave by one of his cronies to work in Iraq.

Well-placed sources confirmed that Roelof Schoeman was granted leave to work in Iraq. They could not say whether it was paid or unpaid leave.

Ekurhuleni metro spokesman Wilfred Kgasago said he could not comment on the matter, because it had come on the weekend.

"Yes, Roelof Schoeman is one of our officers. I don't know if it is true that he took leave to be able to work in Iraq. We will have to find out," Kgasago said.

Asked if Schoeman was a close friend of McBride or not he said: "Everybody is close to McBride.

"He is our father and our leader.''

But Sowetan's sources said Schoeman was a close friend and is currently facing assault charges. They claimed Schoeman and McBride assaulted a motorist, but that Schoeman was taking responsibility on his own.

"They assaulted the motorists together, but Schoeman is taking the blame. Schoeman contravened the Foreign Military Assistance Act and no action is being taken against him."

Schoeman is also said to be facing a charge of illegal possession of ammunition.

"He was arrested two months ago, but not suspended. The case is still going on. He will never be suspended because he is McBride's blue-eyed boy," the source said.

McBride is embroiled in a legal tussle with three of his own officers who he allegedly suspended for what he claimed were criminal activities.

The three, Stanley Segathevan, Patrick Johnston and Itumeleng Koko, were close to the metro police chief.

"There's no evidence against the three suspended officers, but action was taken," said the source.

Last week, the Johannesburg high court ordered McBride and five other senior officers not to harass, intimidate or threaten the three.

McBride is out on R1000 bail and paid leave until the case is completed. His next appearance is scheduled for November.

Sources claim that another of McBride's close friends, Adam Cunnings, joined the Metro police as a security guard and was later promoted to a traffic officer - this despite having served time for murder.

Sources also say Ruddy Degenaar, another friend, was once caught driving a stolen BMW X5. They said McBride covered for him, saying the luxury vehicle had been impounded.