More damning findings against suspended national police commissioner Riah Phiyega emerged on Wednesday with a ministerial reference group concluding she committed fraud, perjury and misconduct, among others, while in office.
Briefing MPs, Police Minister Nathi Nhleko presented a report by the reference group he established in September 2014 to look into complaints raised by senior SAPS (SA Police Service) members against Phiyega.
Nhleko said Phiyega’s removal of Lieutenant General Godfrey Lebeya and Lieutenant General Leah Mofomme after they refused to accept demotion was in contravention of the labour relations act.
“The recommendation by the reference group is that the national commisisoner misconducted herself,” the minister said.
With regard to Nhlanhla Mkhwanazi, the lieutenant general who acted as national police commisioner before Phiyega’s appointment, the reference group found he was “treated with prejudice and malice” after his acting stint came to an end.
“He had no office allocated to him or people to manage and was made to stay home for more than a year,” the reference group report said.
“He was later made to sign a backdated performance agreement and was scored as having performed well during the period he was at home.”
According to Nhleko this amounted to fraud and misconduct.
The reference group also made findings in respect of the two officers who opened a case of defeating the ends of justice against Phiyega – Brigadier Mzwandile Tiyo and major general Chris Ngcobo. The charges related to Phiyega informing suspended Western Cape police commissioner Arno Lamoer of criminal charges being investigated against him.
“Major-general Ngcobo was charged and Brigadier Tiyo is off sick. Such individuals could not have had their cases administered by the national commissioner or her subordinates, as she had already been conflicted,” the report found.
Disciplinary steps were recommended against Phiyega for tipping off Lamoer about the investigation against him.
Phiyega is also accused of committing “a criminal act of perjury and misconduct by bringing the SAPS into disrepute”. This finding emanates from a grievance lodged by Mkhwanazi against Phiyega regarding the court action over suspended crime intelligence head Richard Mdluli.
“Lieutenant General Mkhwanazi had informed the national commissioner about the initiation of disciplinary steps against Lt Gen Mdluli, however to his surprise, the national commissioner told the court such steps were not initiated by him and the court found that there was a dereliction of duty by Lt Gen Mkhwanazi,” the report states.
The lack of disciplinary action against Mdluli, and the fact that he has been at home on full pay for more than two year, was regarded as “wasteful and fruitless expenditure” on Phiyega’s part, the reference group found.