I told Zuma that Phahlane’s presence had a negative impact on SAPS‚ says Mbalula
Police Minister‚ Fikile Mbalula on Wednesday thanked President Jacob Zuma for his “wisdom” in deciding to remove Acting National Police Commissioner‚ Lieutenant-General Kgomotso Phahlane‚ adding that he had informed Zuma that Phahlane’s presence tarnished the SA Police Service.
“... I informed His Excellency‚ President Jacob Zuma‚ that the General’s continued holding of office negatively impacts on the Ministry and department for which I am responsible‚” Mbalula said in a lengthy statement.
Phahlane was the subject of investigation by police watchdog‚ the Independent Police Investigative Directorate into allegations of money laundering‚ defeating the ends of justice and racketeering.
Mbalula said the serious allegations of misconduct impacted on his fitness to hold office.
“The allegations against Lt-Gen Phahlane raise questions of conduct that would be inconsistent with expectations that attend those who hold leadership in our police service‚ the South African Police Service‚” said Mbalula.
“I am duty bound to make it clear that Lt-Gen Phahlane has a right to be presumed innocent until proven otherwise. The allegations levelled are yet to be tested in a court of law.”
Mbalula suggested removing Phahlane was in the interest of justice.
“There clearly are accepted perception discomforts with regards to a perceived interference risk which leads itself to potential national security risk should IPID be impeded in doing their constitutional duty lawfully by anyone‚” said Mbalula.
“It is my belief that Lt-Gen Phahlane and the rule of law would be better served if the Lt-Gen is afforded adequate time and personal freedom to focus on these personal allegations against him without the added burdens of the office of the Acting National Police Commissioner.”
Phahlane has since been redeployed back to his position of Forensic Services Divisional Commissioner but this too could be temporary.
“Accordingly‚ Lt-Gen Phahlane has been requested by myself to furnish me with cogent and reasonable reasons why I should not suspend him from his position as Forensic Services Divisional Commissioner with immediate effect‚” said Mbalula.
Meanwhile‚ Lieutenant-General Lesetja Mothiba has replaced Phahlane – a move welcomed by the Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union.
Spokesperson Richard Mamabolo said Popcru had placed all hope in Mothiba restoring the integrity of the office of the police commissioner‚ adding that the union had felt that the SA Police Service had been “compromised” under Phahlane’s leadership.
In nine days‚ however‚ the tenure of current National Police Commissioner‚ Riah Phiyega‚ who is currently on suspension‚ comes to an end.
It remains to be seen whether Mothiba will be appointed to fill Phiyega’s shoes.